Students often say that group work is the forum in which they learn most about: each other, cultures, language and skills.
Groups should be places where everybody can express their opinions, contribute their ideas and share their knowledge. Working collaboratively in groups is also practical; it helps you be productive and cover ground more quickly in your studies.
Groups have the potential to be supportive, helping students cope with change. Groups can also be difficult places to work, but often the challenges they present can be important learning opportunities as well, even though it may not feel like it at the time!
For employers, having people who are skilled at group or team-working is a real priority.
1. The whole University is a joint endeavour
The University operates in a series of countless groups – some very formal, some simply loose collections of people with common interests. The biggest group is the whole University, including its alumni.
“One of the best things about being part of the University are the opportunities to work with people from different disciplines. The breadth of perspectives definitely enriches projects, and it’s a very rewarding experience.” – 3rd year student
“It’s good finding out what other people know and making my own contribution.” – 1st Year student
2. Getting to grips with group work
Many students who arrive at SSoA have not experienced immersive group working before. Students are often suprised by the amount of group work on the course, but also how valuable they find working in groups.
“Group working is really important. Before we came here we did not have many expectations or know what it is about.” – 1st Year student
“It’s a skill – learning to learn from other people.” – 2nd Year student
3. Getting your ideas across in a group
Most students recognise how valuable it is to learn how, and when, to get their ideas across in group work… and when to let other members of the group make their own contribution.
“The skills I gained from various group work projects combined with working together with other students in the studio has definitely enabled me to work well in a professional design team.” – ‘Year in Practice’ student
“You get more out of group work if you engage in discussions… I’ve found explaining and developing ideas within a group to be very rewarding.” – 1st Year student
4. Developing communication skills
It takes time to understand how to get the most out of group work, particuarly for students who have come from a different learning culture.
“Sheffield students become very skilled in contributing to group work and this skill is valued greatly by employers.” – SSoA
“Listening is important! Being able to listen, take on board and respond to other people’s ideas and opinions has definitely enabled [my] designs to develop further.” – ‘Year in Practice’ student
5. Wider group bonding
Group work is a very good way to help people get to know one another. You will find that people have skills and abilities that you would not have anticipated had you not worked together.
“Field trips have been a great opportunity to get to know each other.” – 1st Year student
“Exchange of ideas in group work informs students’ development of their own personal agendas.” – SSoA
6. Learning from each other
Students often say that group work is the forum in which they learn most. Skills can be shared easily in groups, ideas get talked-through and different ways of thinking can be tried out.
“Sometimes you just feel like you are all facing the same problems, but in reality some people know how to do things, and others don’t – in a group we can all help each other.” – 1st Year student
“By working with people in my group I feel like I’ve come [from] behind in my computer skills – I can now work just as well as them.” – International Undergraduate student
7. Learning about each other
There are a huge range of people in the School of Architecture, group work enables experiences, skills and approaches to be shared and discussed. This is how the University works.
“Having the opportunity to meet with other people who have their own – often differing – ideas about architecture, spaces and places has been really interesting, and certainly broadens your horizons.” – MArch student
“We’ve seen a lot of things in life, whereas younger students are just forming their opinions. Different age groups means the conversation is a lot richer!” – Mature student
8. Groups don’t always work
Students sometimes find it difficult when a group doesn’t function efffectively, but negotiating through this situation can often be a valuable learning experience.
“I know that employers want people who can make groups work…” – 3rd Year student
“Adapting to other peoples’ ways of working can be hard at first, but ultimately it is a valuable means of gaining from the broad range of perspectives within the department.” – 3rd Year student
9. Sharing the experience
Students often tell us that the experience of group working is one of the most significant memories they have of SSoA. Working with others often has a profound impression on us.
“We are all facing the same problems… some people know how to do things, and others don’t, so we can all help each other.” – 1st Year student
“It is great working in groups, as you immediately get to know people to talk to about your work.” – 1st Year student
10. It’s the way the world works
Working in groups and learning to work productively in groups is incredibly important to your future working life.
“I like the group work, because it can help reduce workload. It is very hard to work on your own sometimes… Working in groups can be very useful, especially to develop early work in projects.” – International Undergraduate student
“It’s really valuable to learn to share resources and work across a group – it’s exactly what you’d do in practice and it’s an efficient way of working.” – MArch student