Set team rules, goals and expectations before you start work
Before you actually start working on your assignment, it’s a good idea to set ground rules for the group. These include things like when and where you will meet, how you will communicate, and so on. Make sure everyone gets a say - it’s no good setting a meeting time if half your group can’t make it!
You should also talk about the task and make sure everyone is on the same page. Sometimes people interpret instructions differently, overlook an important detail, or have different expectations about how the assignment should be completed. Making sure everyone is clear about what needs to be done before you start helps you avoid a lot of problems later on.
Communicate with your team
It’s important for everyone in the group to communicate regularly. This helps make sure everyone is making progress on their tasks, and allows problems to be addressed before they cause if trouble. It also allows the team to make suggestions and improve on each other’s work.
If you’re having trouble, you’re not sure what you should be doing, or you’re not certain if what you’ve done is okay, let your team know! It’s better to sort it out early than wait until just before the assignment is due. Conversely, if someone else is having difficulty, help them out.
It can also be a good idea to keep a copy of documents in a shared space, such as Google Drive. This is great for providing suggestions and feedback, and helps everyone keep an eye on how the assignment is progressing. It also means that if something happens to one of your group you still have access to the stuff they were working on.
Everyone is responsible for every part of the end product
A group assignment isn’t “several individual assignments, stapled together”. As a group, you need to make sure you produce a coherent product and that all parts of the assignment are of an acceptable standard. It’s fine to put people in charge of a specific task, but they shouldn’t be working in complete isolation.
Throughout the assignment, everyone should share what they’ve done and provide feedback on the others’ work. You should also allow time before you submit to do a final round of editing. Look for differences in formatting, quality, and what you’re actually saying, and make sure everything is consistent.
Be a team player
Treat your teammates with respect. When giving suggestions or feedback, be constructive - focus on how to improve things, instead of complaining or assigning blame. Listen to your team and be prepared to compromise sometimes.
If you really want to do well, help your teammates get along with each other. If someone is having trouble being heard, ask directly for their opinion. If there are heated discussions and things get personal, try to smooth things over and refocus everyone on the task. When someone makes a good contribution, or compromises so the project can move forward, let them know you appreciate it.
If something is seriously wrong
Finally, if there is a major problem with the group, discuss it with your lecturer or tutor before the assignment is due. Dealing with minor problems is part of the task, but if something is seriously wrong it’s okay to raise it with your lecturer.