General Engineering Introduction/Communication/Ground rules

From article by Phil Race, "500 Tips on Group Learning," Chapter 14. Kogan Page Limited, 120 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9JN, UK. Distributed by Stylus Publishing Limited, 2283 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166, USA. ©Copyright, Phil Race, 2000. The right of Phil Race to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Establishing Ground Rules for Groups

1 Own the rules. Below are various starting ground rules for a group. Read them over.

2 Foster a culture of honesty. Successful group work relies on truthfulness. It is dishonest for group members to 'put up with' something they don't agree about, or can't live with. This is just as dishonest as speaking falsely. But remember to temper honesty with tact.

3 You don't have to like others in the group. People work in the team they are in. Matters of personal conflict need to be managed so they don't get in the way of the progress of the group as a whole.

4 Assume collective responsibility. Everyone must live with the group decisions and refraining from articulating their own personal reservations outside the group.

5 Practice listening skills. Every voice deserves to be heard, even if you don't initially agree with the point of view being expressed.

6 Encourage full participation. Group work relies on multiple perspectives. Goup members not to hold back from putting forward their view. Group members also need to value the opinion of others as well as their own.

7 Do your fair share. This does not mean that everyone has to do the same thing. It is best to agree upon how the tasks will be allocated. Be prepared to contribute by building on the ideas of others and validating each other's experiences.

8 Exercise your strength and talent. Allocate tasks according to experience and expertise.

9 Teach others. Personal expertise doesn't grow unless it is taught to others.

10 Keep good records. There needs to be an output to look back upon. This is why there are notebooks and electronic documentation grades. Project points will not be added to your final grade until the project is finished.

11 Work on projects weekly. There is always something to do. Find it. Don't find excuses to not work.

12 Cultivate philanthropy. Subordinate personal needs and wishes and value the project.

13 Think outside the box. Don't kill inspiration. Strike a fair balance between progress and creativity.

14 Come to Class. The time to work on a project alone is at home. Come to class to communicate with your teammates.