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Preparing for College Success

Family & Friends Matter

Preparing for College SuccessFamily & Friends Matter

Michael’s group project seems to be destined to fail. The group members have been sporadic in attending meetings, communicating in the group text, and completing their work. If the project was not worth a third of their overall grade, Michael would have given up weeks ago. However, he really wants to do a good job, because he knows he needs to develop better communication skills and because his professor is part of the graduate admissions committee for physical therapy and her recommendation would be important.

The professor has communicated how she expects the groups to handle the workload and conflict. She wants them to resolve any issues that arise, and she does not want to be consulted on disputes that can be easily remedied by the group. She believes that these real-world experiences of working with others will help them develop project-planning and communication skills that are far more valuable than the grade they may earn.

The presentation and final paper are due in a week, and Michael is the only one who has kept to the agreed-upon schedule. He has heard nothing from his classmates about where they are in the process and when they will be able to hand over their parts. Unfortunately, Michael cannot finish his parts—writing the conclusion and finalizing the slides—without knowing what they found in their research. He is not sure what to do.

Let’s Think About It

Michael has several options. Think through the consequences of each one, and choose the best option or create your own option.

  • Michael does all the work himself and tells his professor in a private message that none of his group members contributed and do not deserve a grade for the project.
  • Michael sends a message to all his group members telling them that he will be doing all the work himself as an individual project and if they want to continue as a group, they can fill in his part themselves.
  • Michael offers to help fill in parts that need to be completed, waits patiently until a few days before the assignment is due, and completes as much as he can—his parts and others’ parts—without sharing with his professor the reality of the situation.

Let’s Talk About It

Michael has a few communication challenges: his professor wants the groups to work out any conflict and his group is not communicating with him. While Michael may be limited in his ability to affect the outcome of the group presentation, he can communicate clearly with his group members. Here are some suggestions for communicating with others about the dilemma that Michael is facing:

  • “I realize that we are all really busy, but I want to reiterate what we agreed to do. At the very least, please communicate what you have done and what you need help with, so that we all can do our parts to complete this project.”
  • “I am feeling stressed about the lack of communication, and am concerned it will keep us from working effectively. Because I am leading our group work, I am proposing that those who do not meet the deadlines for having their part completed will be replaced by someone who can get the part done.”
  • “By next Thursday, if the group members who have not completed their parts do not update or share their work, I will be filling in those parts myself so that we can submit this work on time.”

Whatever choice you would make in this situation, it is always best to communicate clearly your needs, your concerns, and even your uncertainties.

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