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9.3.4 Plan work with others for achieving the quality outcomes required

If you are doing this to complete a project as part of your study, check if the work is going to be assessed, and make sure you know how marks will be allocated and what criteria will be used. Take time to read carefully any instructions you have been given on group work for the activity – ask your tutor for advice if you are unsure about anything, particularly if this is the first time you have been set a group task. Check whether you will be assessed as a group or as individuals. Will the
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9.3.3 Identify relevant sources of information

Exploring and identifying sources of information is about finding out what you don't know as well as using and adapting what you do know. Group projects and assignments frequently require you to carry out research and this will involve identifying specific resources you may need. For example, think about the materials and equipment that might be needed and whether the group needs to get specific expert advice and support and, if so, where you can obtain this.

It is also important to spe
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9.3.2 Identify what you hope to achieve

It is a good idea to know not only what you are trying to achieve, but also when you have achieved it, so it is important that your goals are clear and that you can easily measure your progress against them. Setting realistic targets, planning actions and modifying those plans in the light of experience are all part of developing this key skill, but this time they need to be done and negotiated within the group.

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9.3.1 Establish opportunities for using skills in working with others

You need to identify activities that will provide you with opportunities for working with others over a period of 3 months or so. This could involve both one-to-one and group situations, such as working on a particular project at work, a group project as part of your course or e-conferencing on a group assignment.

Time out


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9.3 Developing a strategy

In developing a strategy for improving your skills in working with others you are aiming to:

  • identify the opportunities you can use to develop and practise your skills in working with others, and the goals you hope to achieve;

  • identify the resources you might use for developing your skills, including people who might be able to help you as well as libraries, books, databases, the Internet or online support;

  • establish
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Working on improving your skills in working with others

The three-stage framework for developing and improving your skills provides the basis for you to become more confident in:

  • developing a strategy for using a variety of techniques and tools for working with others, including being clear about what you want to achieve, identifying relevant sources of information that will help you to achieve your goals, and planning how you intend to improve your skills;

  • monitoring your progress and cri
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9.1.1 About working with others

Very few people study or work in complete isolation. Some courses now set projects and assignments that need to be completed in pairs or groups, either face-to-face or using e-conferencing. Even if your course does not formally require you to do this, working with others is an important part of your skills portfolio. Most jobs require you to work as part of a team, and employers value individuals who can demonstrate this.

In working on a work project or an assignment with others – in
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8.9 Drawing ideas together

This key skill has used a three-stage framework for developing your skills. By developing a strategy, monitoring your progress and evaluating your overall approach, you take an active role in your own learning. But learning does not necessarily follow a path of steady improvement, it involves change: revisiting ideas, seeing things from different perspectives, tackling things in different ways.

You are unlikely to be able to complete your work by working through it from beginning to end
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8.7.1 Illustrate your problem-solving process and present results

How will you best present your problem-solving process to others? You may need to produce a written account or report as well as an oral presentation. What material will you need to support your work? You may need to provide posters, organise a demonstration, a working model or a prototype product, or be able to offer other examples of your work. Find out what is expected of you and the format in which you should present your findings.

What evidence do you have to support your conclusio
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8.7 Evaluating strategy and presenting outcomes

This stage of the framework focuses on identifying what you have achieved and how well you have achieved it. It involves you in evaluating your strategy and presenting the outcomes of your work. As you evaluate and assess your strategy, identify aspects of your problem-solving skills that you want to develop further. At the end of this stage, use the records in your Skills File to complete the activity ‘Evaluating your problem-solving strategy and presenting outcomes’ and pull togeth
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8.6.2 Adapt your strategy to overcome difficulties

Often plans run into difficulties because of unforeseen problems or changing circumstances. For example, you may be running over your deadlines, the resources or support you were expecting are unavailable to you, or your personal circumstances may have changed. Plans are only a means to an end, however. If you run into difficulties, take some time to think about what effect they will have on your plans, and what changes you may need to make to your overall strategy to achieve the outcomes you
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8.6.1 Monitor and critically reflect on your use of problem-solving skills

As you use problem-solving skills in your work, refer back to the outcomes you hope to achieve and the goals you have set yourself. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • am I on track to achieve my outcomes?

  • what difficulties in using problem-solving techniques have I experienced and what have I done about them?

  • how have the choices and decisions I made impacted on me and on others?

  • do I need to make any ch
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8.5.4 Manage each stage of the work effectively

Effective management means putting your resources to work and monitoring your progress. For each stage of the work you will need to gather together the resources necessary in good time, and maintain the co-operation of other people working with you. Think about how you will keep the project moving forward for all those involved. Are the goals still clear, or have you become enmeshed in detail?

Use milestones or review points to keep your plan up to date and, if necessary, modify your pl
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8.5.3 Negotiate the option to be taken forward

In many contexts problem-solving activities will involve other people. You may need to seek permissions, advice, support and resources from a range of people, such as your tutor, manager, group or team colleagues, or others who may have authority over or be affected by your work.

Some aspects of negotiation are:

  • gaining the co-operation of colleagues, as necessary;

  • establishing the availability of resources, including staffing;<
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8.5.2 Identify options that have a chance of success

Explore and compare the options available to you. Be critically aware of the different factors such as technical, commercial, political, academic or personal interests that may influence your choice of options.

How will you arrive at those solutions most likely to meet the agreed conditions for success? In comparing possible approaches you might use:

  • decision-making techniques: developing and applying a decision tree to help you select a
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8.5.1 Generate a variety of ways of tackling problems

Where the best way, or, indeed, any way, of tackling a problem is not obvious, there are a number of tools and techniques which can be useful to stimulate ideas and different ways of thinking:

  • reasoning: reaching conclusions or deciding on paths of action by means-end analysis or critical-path analysis;

  • matching: recognising similarities with other situations, drawing analogies, adapting solutions that have worked or s
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8.5 Monitoring progress

This stage is about keeping track of your progress. Are you tackling your problem-solving activities effectively? How do you know? Could you have done things differently, made use of different tools (such as software packages) or facilities, taken more advantage of tutorials, training sessions or local expertise, or recognised that such support would have helped you?

Monitoring your own performance and progress needs practice; try to stand back and look at what you are doing as if you w
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8.4.1 Plan your use of problem-solving skills and select methods

Exploring and planning an activity often results in different options, possibilities and ways forward. Some approaches will be more feasible or will interest you more than others. At this stage you need to think about how you will be using your problem-solving skills and how you will assess the overall quality of your work. To help you make these decisions, you may find tools such as concept maps or critical-path analysis helpful in representing the different parts of the problem-solving acti
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8.3.4 Research information from other sources

Spend some time finding out about what you will need to help you complete your problem-solving work successfully and who you need to consult. You may need to arrange access to a library, the Internet, databases on CD-ROM or online, or specialist training or publications. If you need to learn more about tools or techniques (for example concept maps, critical-path diagrams or flowcharts), then look first at your course material, and then at study guides or notes aimed at your area of interest (
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8.3.3 Explore problems

Recognising and framing problems so that you can tackle them effectively is a central part of a problem-solving strategy. Often, problems are not presented in a well-defined way, and it is up to you to define exactly why a problem exists and what its boundaries are.

Recognising a problem means identifying that there is a gap between the present situation and what is desirable, and establishing that no immediate solution is at hand. This exploratory stage is about finding out more about
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