The Unwritten Rules of Group Projects


Hannah Petersen

High school students sometimes struggle with group projects.

Hannah McCarron , Staff Writer

Groups projects. These are two words that can strike fear in students. Two words that can seem like the end of the world or a cruel joke by a sadistic teacher. While groups projects seem like unbearable and annoying components of our schooling, they help build important skills that we will use the rest of our lives. Even so, there are still some unwritten rules for group projects that some people ignore which makes them seem like the unbearable and annoying assignments that they are not. However, if everyone could follow the unwritten rules, the days of group project resentment could be over.

So, here are the top five rules:

  1. Participate!
  2. Do not become controlling
  3. Keep in touch
  4. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your part
  5. Have a good attitude

The first rule is to participate. This seems easy enough, but surely there is always one group member who decides to sit back and allow their partners to do the work. Sometimes these lazy tendencies are understandable. You may feel as if you aren’t smart enough or helpful enough to contribute anything meaningful to you group, so, you decide to just let them handle it. While you may feel this is the best strategy by “staying out of the way,” it isn’t. No matter what your abilities are there is always something you can do to help your group. Just put yourself out there and ask how you can help. It is what your group members deserve and what you deserve. The only way we learn is through participating.

The second rule is to avoid becoming a “dictator” in your project. This is basically the opposite of our first rule. Instead of a lazy group member, we sometimes get stuck with an overbearing and over controlling one. These group members will often seem very helpful at first but as time goes by your realize that they have done everything. You have to make sure you include or at least acknowledge everyone’s ideas. If someone want to help take it as an opportunity to get new perspectives rather than an attack on your control over the project.  

The third rule is to keep in touch. Communication is key for so many aspects of our lives and group projects are no exception. Lucky for us, we live in the 21st century and most of us have access to technology that makes staying in touch very easy. Take initiative in your group and make a group chat! This way everyone is in the conversation and if any changes to the plan occur everyone is informed so they can do what they need to do. It also lets you know who is doing what without any confusion.

Rule number four is in regards to procrastinating. Do not wait until the last minute to do your part. While in individual assignments you can usually get away with this, group projects you cannot. Because everyone’s part is dependent on each others, you should finish with enough time left for other group members to do what they need to do and review your project overall. Waiting til the last minute does nobody any good.

And last but not least, the fifth rule is to have a good attitude during group projects. Obviously everyone has the same goal to achieve a good grade on the assignment, but even with that a little bit of fun is allowed. Don’t take it too seriously. When working with others, a positive environment is crucial and often jokes and a bit of silliness can enhance a work environment. As long as they don’t get in the way of the actual work, jokes and fun should be not only welcome, but encouraged in a group project. Not only are we developing scholarly skills, but also valuable social skills.

Hopefully, you already follow these unwritten rules, but even if you don’t they are easy enough to adopt. Everyone has been guilty at one point or another of being a bad team member and ignoring one of these rules but once realized and practiced, these rules can make group projects manageable and sometimes even enjoyable.