How To Deal With Difficult Group Project Groups

By Ashley Paskill on December 10, 2019

While most college work is done individually, it is likely that you will have at least one group project. Some classes are designed where you work with a group on various projects throughout the semester. Ideally, everyone communicates effectively and things go flawlessly. However, that does not always happen. Group members may not do their share of the work, leaving others to pick up their slack. Others may not communicate at all, making it impossible to figure out what needs to be done. If you find yourself with a tough group, rest assured that you will make it out alive.

Get ahead of the problems

If you worked with the same group members before and you had issues, you know what to look out for. Hopefully, in your last experience, you figured out a way to resolve the problem. If not, see if you can switch groups. Even if you have not worked with the group, you may know that they have not been the best group members on other projects. Even if this is not the case either, it is still a good idea to stop any issues before they even come up. Communicate early on and assign individual roles and deadlines.

Do not be afraid to take on the role of a group leader

It may be easy to tell right away that it is going to take some effort to keep your group on task. This is especially true if no one else is stepping up to take the role or if you do not know how serious the members of the group are. In this case, you may have the assume the role of the group leader to ensure that your group stays focus throughout the course of the project and that you get the best grade possible. However, try to avoid doing all of the work yourself. A good leader encourages the team to do what needs to be done.

Talk to your group before or after class

Communicating through email and texting can be tough, especially when you are trying to convey emotion. Plan to talk with your group before or after class. Write out what you want to say, and be sure to be respectful. Tell the group what you are feeling and what needs to be done. Be sure to ask them what is going on with them that may be causing them to have issues. Ask what you can do to help them deal with whatever they have going on so that your project stays on the path of completion without you having to do all the work.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez via

Document everything

If you have a group member who consistently cannot make group meetings at the last minute or who does not show up without warning, save screenshots. At meetings, have present group members sign a paper to prove that they were there. That way, if you do need to escalate to talking to your professor, you will have both the communication and the sheets of paper. Also, have your groupmates keep track of what they are working on and what they accomplish, when.

Talk to your professor

If talking gets you nowhere, talk to your professor. They want you to succeed and they understand that these things happen. At the very least, your professor will be able to keep in mind your situation so that the good group members are not penalized when it comes to the grade of the project. However, try to solve the problem on your own before approaching your professor. When you do sit down with your professor, walk through what you did to try to resolve the situation. If possible, get documentation such as text messages, emails, or any other form of communication as further evidence of the situation. At the same time, keep your professor in the loop. Even sending a quick email that you are struggling with your group members but are in the process of trying to resolve the issue can be helpful so your professor can keep an eye on things.

Stay positive

It may not be the most ideal situation, but this group project will not last forever. While you will likely have to work in a group throughout your career, it will be better once you are getting paid for the work and your colleagues’ paychecks and career are on the line. Be sure to take time to work on assignments for other classes. Also, make sure you take some time for yourself to help you reduce stress. If you have done everything possible to get your group to cooperate and things still are not going as planned, do not beat yourself up. You have done everything you can do and as long as your professor is in the loop, hopefully, your grade will not suffer.

Group projects are a necessary evil. In the best-case scenario, all of your group members will cooperate and get things done. However, this does not always happen as life is unpredictable.  If things get tough, take action when you can but keep in mind that you are only one person and you are doing your best.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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