Instructor Resources

Are We Doing Group Projects Right?

November 10, 2021
Two cartoon characters on one side of a cliff trying to reach the other side using a ladder

So, you are thinking of having, or perhaps already have, group projects as the main component in your course. That’s great — teamwork can be extremely helpful with student engagement and can also enhance their learning experience! However, the reality of group work is not as smooth-sailing as it seems.

Traditional collaboration is not working

In a recent survey by College Pulse, up to 49 percent of students express a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” attitude towards group projects. It’s easy to understand why — free-riding, lack of communication and collaboration are issues that have been discrediting the effectiveness of group work. Dealing with a difficult group can cause frustration and eventually deter students from delivering the quality of work they desire.

The same report shows that only 48 percent of employers perceive recent graduates to be “very well prepared” in collaboration. Students in general also believe their higher education has not prepared them well for effective teamwork, a skill valued by most employers.

Three teammates arguing feeling frustrated

Ultimately, your role as an instructor is to help students prepare for the workforce. According to this 2021 AACU report, 93% of employers surveyed said that the “ability to work in a team” was “very important” or “somewhat important”. If students are having negative experiences collaborating in the classroom, they will likely carry this experience on to the workplace.

How does a project management tool fit into collaboration?

Project management tools, like Asana, have been widely adopted by many companies, and there is no sign of this slowing down. Work can get pretty hectic in the professional world, and companies are now resorting to organizational tools to stay on top of all their tasks.

Of course, there is no exception when it comes to the education sphere — students often get buried in their assignments or get lost in their group work. A simple project management tool can come into play to help students visualize their workflow easily and stay organized.

As such, Ensightful provides students with the opportunity to practice their time and project management skills.

Ensightful Kanban board instructor view
Use the Kanban board to effectively organize tasks on Ensightful.

With tasks efficiently organized and roles specified on a Kanban board, students can view their progress in real-time and identify what needs to be done before the next deadline. This reduces unproductive conflict and allows students to work more efficiently. What gives Ensightful an edge over veteran tools like Monday and Trello is its instructor side: you can gain real-time insights into students’ activities and can detect group issues early on.

Ensightful instructor view - Team overview page
Instructors have a bird's-eye view of every team's progress.

Strong collaboration skills are the foundation of future workplaces, especially with remote jobs on the rise. Students need more than unguided group projects to excel in teamwork. Ensightful will create a smooth transition to other project management tools in students’ future organizations and reduce the collaboration skills gap.

Check out our project management tool to promote student teamwork experience in your next class: