The 5 types of group members and what they mean for you


It’s your least favourite time of the semester, you’ve just been put into your groups for the group presentation. It was a disaster last time, but that was before Dylan Crismale wrote this guide to help you.

Group assignment. Two words that when uttered together in a sentence, are likely to cause most university students to let out an anguished groan.

No one likes group assignments, that’s just a fact.

Group assignments are supposed to prepare us for the “real world”, but in the workplace, there’s at least a hiring process to ensure that everyone you’re working with is there for the same reasons you are. But at university, group assignments are the worst, they’re full of people who haven’t been vetted, and let’s be real, no one’s there to make friends - unless you’re the sort who posts on UTS confessions asking why it’s so hard to make friends at uni.

Uni life is difficult enough already without being forced into working with people who don’t have the same work ethic as you. What we can do is identify the culprits, and sort out some strategies for dealing with them.

The Boss

They like to get shit done. They’re going to have your group running on a tight schedule. Time for a nap at the end of a long day of classes? Not when the boss is on your case!

This group member is like a carefully-balanced set of scales; push them too hard one way, and they might get a little bossy at times (but you’ll thank them for it later), or push them the other way, and you’ll get an well below average on your SPARK review.

A boss can be a great asset in your group, or they can be the worst. If someone’s taking charge and it’s working, roll with it, but don’t forget to check in with them to make sure they’re coping and make sure you do your best work. If they’re being a bit of a dick, let them know, and they’ll probably be embarrassed and apologise profusely - they’re not Satan, they're just trying to get the job done.

The Technophobe

“That sounds great! Can you add that onto the Google Doc?”

“The what?”

The Technophobe is old-style, they like to take minutes in their journal and jot down their ideas in an indecipherable scrawl. Their inability to use technology like your fellow Gen Z kids can be baffling, and lead to a whole range of tech-literacy problems:

“When’s it due?”

“It’s on the Google Calendar.”

“How do I add a signature onto my email?”

“Hmm,  let me Google that for you...”

They don’t know what they’re doing, and if you let it slide, bad habits will follow them right into the workplace – and onto your transcript. Do your best to get them up to speed and then be very, very patient.

This is NOT the person you want to assign to making the presentation.

Classic Slacker

We’ve all worked with this one – it might even be you. You’ve split the group work into even parts, and if everyone does their part on time, you're bound for an easy HD. But the slacker … well. They like to take things a little too easy, and they show up in every group assignment without fail.

They’ve always got a million excuses and you can’t believe any of them. It’s best to confront them as early as possible and let them know you’re on to them.

Your best chance of preventing the slacker from bringing you and the group down is to establish a very clear set of expectations for everyone in the group, right at the beginning of the assignment – preferably in writing. This way, if anything goes awry, you’ll have some tangible evidence to present to your tutor.

Miss Communication

Proper conflict in a group assignment is rare, and often avoidable, but things become difficult when you run into this person.

They’re the type of person who will bring their issues up to one group member who might advise they let the group know how they feel.

“Yeah, I’ll send so-and-so a message later.”

But they never do, and before you know it, it’s the week before the assignment is due and they finally announce they have something to say.

If this sounds like you, reconsider your actions next time around – speak up loud, and often.

The one who lives really far away

I’m talking “How do you even get to uni everyday?” far away. Their presence (or lack thereof) will make Facebook calls/Google Hangouts a necessity. They’re not really a terrible person, but their circumstance is not ideal in a group assignment. It’s even more important when working with this person that you communicate frequently as best as you can… because you’ll almost never see them — except for in tutorials, or in the Central tunnel, making the mad dash to catch their train.

Pray for them.

Dylan Crismale is a third-year Journalism/International Studies (Italy) student who spends too much time watching Netflix and usually deplores group work.