Studying Effectively

Features of a successful group

If you are working on a joint project or a group assignment it is important to discuss and agree your ways of working together before plunging straight into the learning task.

This approach will not only make your team more successful but will help you to avoid common problems that take lots of time, energy and emotion to resolve.

As a new group you may wish to use the following questions to get started:

Questions members of a new group should ask

Shared Goals

  1. What are your group goals? – What do you want to achieve?
  2. What are the important milestones and targets? – By when do you need to complete tasks?
  3. What are the priorities? – If things don’t go to plan and you are running out of time what are the main things to achieve?

Working together

  1. How will you make decisions? – Do you have a nominated group leader? Do you have a democratic way of deciding in which all voices are heard?
  2. How will tasks and activities be shared between the group members? – People have different skills: can these be maximised?
  3. What will you do if you disagree? – Think now about how you might resolve a conflict or a disagreement. It is easier to think about this hypothetically before people and emotions are involved.
  4. How will progress be checked? – Will the group or an individual take responsibility for checking that actions are taken and work is done?

Group Meetings

  1. How often do you want to meet face to face and how will you keep each other updated and in touch between these meetings?
  2. How will meetings be organised? – Will you have a formal chair, time-keeper and a secretary / note-taker? Will these roles stay static or will they rotate? Do you need to book a meeting room? If so, who will do that? Will you have an agenda circulated before the meeting? If so, who will do that?
  3. What will you do if people don’t come to meetings? – Agreeing the consequences for not contributing fully to the group at the start will help to avoid this problem.
  4. Taking breaks is an important part of any group meeting longer than 1 hour so agree what breaks you will take, how long they will be, and agree when and where you will reconvene to continue the meeting. Longer meetings may need multiple breaks.

Answering these key questions together can help you draw up your group’s own set of ground-rules.


  • Discuss and agree ground-rules whenever a new group is established
  • Write down your ground-rules
  • Make sure everybody has a copy
  • Review the ground-rules to check they are still appropriate and useful.
Students working on a joint project


Further reading

Being organised 

More from Being organised

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5151
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3666
Contact us