You know them.
You love to hate them,
And no university blog is complete without them.
They creep from the shadows into courses you’d least expect, and force you to do things you wouldn’t normally do, associate with people you would normally have never spoken too. They destroy friendships and make our hair go grey.
For some unknown reason, teachers think it’s a good idea to group people who have never met and give them a task that involves working together and give them all marks based on the overall presentation…
The only positive about that scenario is that you don’t know anyone so you’re free to love or hate him or her as you desire. If you’re already friends with someone in the group, then things tend to get awkward when they don’t do any work and you have to whip them into shape.
However, there are methods to make sure people do what they are supposed to. The particular method that I favour is called a ‘Team Contract’. Basically, everyone writes their name and their allotted task then they sign underneath a couple of sentences that state that “if you don’t do your task then you don’t get any marks” – or something to that effect. A copy is posted on the forum so that everyone, including the teacher can see what you’re meant to be doing and if you’re actually doing it. It doesn’t guarantee that the work people do will be in any way good, but at least they do something.
I heartedly recommend Team Contract’s to anyone about to go into a group assignment. It makes the whole thing a bit more business-like. Plus then you can threaten to stick a lawyer on anyone who doesn’t pull his or her weight.
While not all nursing courses have big group assignments, most do have teamwork. For anyone who has done, or will do, an OSCE (which is the term used to refer to our exam where we dress up and give dummies medications, wound dressings, respiratory assessments or something along those lines) is probably the most hated thing in nursing.
Doesn’t matter if you’ve done the stuff a thousand times. When you’re asked to do a certain number of things in 20, 30 or 50minutes, with someone staring over your shoulder and coughing when you might not be doing something wrong – your brain shuts down and starts wailing like a three-year-old.
The first few OSCE’s that I had to do were done alone, and I confess that after my second one I had a bit of a cry because I couldn’t remember a single thing I was meant to do. But that has nothing to do with teamwork. In later OSCE’s, one requires a partner. This can be both a blessing and a curse – depending on the person. If you get a partner who is fairly confident and doesn’t let their nerves get to them, then the experience isn’t too bad. If you get one who is a nervous wreck then you become a nervous wreck and both of you do terribly. Not fun – let me tell you.
My motto with teamwork and group assignments is to expect the best and prepare for the worst. In OSCE’s for example, if you have to fake a bit of confidence then your partner thinks that you’re confident and that may calm them which will in turn calm you.
In group assignments, if you’re like me and worry that a certain person won’t do their part and be ready on the day then have a fail-safe in place. Don’t do their work for them though, because then that teaches someone they can get away with doing nothing. Before the talk, tell the teacher that so-and-so hasn’t fulfilled their requirements – show the team contract, and let the teacher mark the team based on who pulled their weight. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks, usually not everyone in the team is terrible.
That’s about all I have to say for now.