"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

My weekly update: 27 March 2011/ Group Work

In Weekly Update on March 28, 2011 at 12:10 am

This week I have been busy working on my group project.  We have been filming, recording sounds and making models…

This activities got me into reflecting upon the importance of a successful group work… What does it mean to work in a group? Can we learn anything from this experience?  And maybe even more importantly how can we improve on our skills for the future? When discussing the group project with my colleagues I couldn’t help noticing the grimace on everyones face followed by: ” You know group project is always hard…”

I started wondering: “Why are we so negative about this experience?”, “Shouldn’t we be more exited about if?”

What is the purpose of a group work?

  1. To elaborate on the ideas of others.
  2. People can find motivation, empowerment and liberation through group work.
  3. Reassuring power of being in the same situation.
  4. Reflective practice.
  5. Easy way of problem solving through group brainstorming.
  6. Group work is a form of cooperative learning. It aims to cater for individual differences, develop students’ knowledge, generic skills (e.g. communication skillscollaborative skills, critical thinking skills) and attitudes.

“Students who posses well developed group skills and understand their behaviour are motivated in their work and perform with healthy and optimistic approach.  By developing good group skills they find themselves in an excellent position as valuable future co-workers, leaders and human beings.”

Can we be taught how to behave and work in a group?  Are there any rules that we should follow?

What makes an effective team?

▪    It has a range of individuals who contribute in different ways and complement each other.

▪    Clear goals are agreed that everyone understands and is committed to.

▪    It has a coordinator who may adopt a leadership style. Different people may assume the role of leader for different tasks.

▪    There is a balance between the task (what do we need to do?) and the process (how do we achieve this?)

▪    There is a supportive, informal atmosphere where members feel able to take risks and say what they think.

▪    The group is comfortable with disagreement and can successfully overcome differences in opinion.

▪    There is a lot of discussion in which everyone participates. Group members listen to each other and everyone’s ideas are heard.

▪    Members feel free to criticize and say what they think but this is done in a positive, constructive manner.

The group learns from experience: reviewing and improving performance in the light of both successes and failures.

And what makes an ineffective team?

  • People talk more than they listen and only a few people may contribute.
  • Some members are silent and don’t contribute. They may be indifferent, bored or afraid to contribute.
  • Members ideas are dismissed or even ridiculed and their views are ignored.
  • There are arguments between members of the group (as opposed to constructive differences of opinion).
  • One or two members dominate the others and make the decisions.
  • Disagreements are put to the vote without being discussed.
  • Some members are unhappy with decisions and grumble privately afterwards.
  • Little effort is made to keep to the point or to work to deadlines.
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding goals and specific tasks are not agreed.
  • Roles are not delegated to particular team members.
  • There is a lack of trust and helpfulness.
  • Members don’t talk about how the group is working or the problems it faces.

To get to the root of the problem I started with doing a little research on the subject of working in a group and individual’s behaviour within a group:

An individual’s performance and his or our consciousness of it, and what are not present are the sources of unhealthy behaviour within a group.  Given that many are not wholly aware of their behaviour patterns and how they affect others, that equally many will not have thought about the matter at all or even want to, then the approach that reveals to them how their behaviour appears to others, followed by offering of information and guidance, may well give them for the first time some ability consciously to control aspects of their behaviour.

It boils down to the fact that whether the behaviour in question is one of a great lack of SOCIAL COMPETENCE through lack of opportunity to learn or behaviour which is asocial, unless the individual becomes aware of it and then decides to do something about it, very little change will actually occur, or if it does occur, it will not endure.

In simple terms, the only lasting changes which can be made in HUMAN BEHAVIOUR have to come from the individuals who are targets of the change.  This is usually summed up either in terms of public conformity for change, which is brought about by the application of outside pressure, or private acceptance for the change which is brought about by an individual’s desire to change.

As an (quite extreme) example of tension in a group I watched a film ” One Flew over Cuckoo’s Nest” based on a novel under the same title written by Ken Kesey. It is set in an Oregon asylum, and serves as a study of the institutional process and the human mind.


“Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value” (Albert Einstein)

In my personal view a proper understanding and knowledge of WORKING ETHICS is a huge factor in the process of self development and THEN building a successful working relationships as a next step.


  1. Respect the rights and differences of others.
  2. Ensure that your behaviour/actions does not harm other people.
  3. Challenge constructively bad behaviour and discrimination.
  4. Think critically about your role and affect in a group.
  5. Work in a transparent and responsible way.
  6. Strive to establish and maintain the trust and confidence of other members of the group.
  7. Protect the rights and interests of other group members.
  8. Respect other ideas and views, even if you don’t agree.
  9. Be honest and clear.

Reaching an understanding is based on analysis and reflection of the ideas and beliefs.  Therefore it is important that students acquire and apply the habits of critical reflection, self-evaluation, consultation and more appropriate research in the evaluation.

To conclude.  What have I learned from working within a group?

Most notably I understood the importance of constant communication in the process of achieving good results within a group.  I have also become aware that a lot more emphasis and support should be put towards the acquisition of adaptable people skills that will help to build better future relations.


I hope that you have found my article interesting.  Please leave comments or your share your own experience within this topic.




“Basic Group Work” by Tom Douglas


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