Groupwork - Freeloaders & Keeners
Kelly and Rachel give their top tips for working in a group efficiently and effectively.
Rachel: Welcome back to another UTS Student Hacks Podcast with Rachel and Kelly! This episode we will be talking about group work, in particular the dreaded free loaders and keeners.
Kelly: This is a judgement free zone so do not worry if you were a freeloader or keener in the past. We always have room for improvement.
Kelly: So, we’re going to start off with what a freeloader looks like to us.
Kelly: For me, it’s someone who fails to do their work, does not show up to meetings, and does not put their best work forward. How about you Rachel?
Rachel: Well, I think the people that take comfort in letting other team members do all of the work and may go MIA from time to time throughout the semester.
Rachel: Remember that asking for help from another team member or asking them to do a different section because you don’t really understand the one you’ve been assigned to ISN'T freeloading. This is normal. Freeloaders usually take but don’t give anything back in return.
Rachel: Have you ever experienced a freeloader Kelly?
Kelly: Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to have pretty good group members over the past 2 and a half years. I believe this could happen because I took the initiative to get to know my members and see what they were confident in doing and what they were not as confident in. My biggest tip is figuring out what all your group members want to get grade wise and how much time they are willing to put into this group work.
Kelly: I prefer to have group calls through Zoom, Microsoft Team, Facebook Messenger and etc, every week or every other week to see how everyone is going in life in general as well as with their part of the assessment. Take initiative and communicate any concerns you have with your group members. What is your take on this Rachel?
Rachel: Thing is, you may not have a good experience with your group members with Kelly, but that’s still fine because it lets you learn from the experience and helps you realise how capable you are at overcoming challenges. Group work assignments really help you develop and work on your interpersonal skills. Especially when you have a freeloader on your team: you’re showing your adaptability, problem-solving and communication skills. All of which are really important in the workplace.
Rachel: Now a little story-time. In one of my classes, the tutor allocated a new member to our team because she didn’t have a group. The new member wouldn't respond to our messages and emails and when we reached out to the tutor he couldn’t really help us out.
Rachel: We ended up splitting the section amongst ourselves and finished all of our parts on google doc. This helped us checked each other’s progress and proofread each other’s sections. This got us a distinction and the member that hasn’t participated got a lower mark.
Rachel: This shows you that although you can’t always have a good experience, being on the same page with your team members can help you get the job done!
Rachel: We asked a couple of current UTS students’ advice on freeloaders and working in groups. Let’s listen to what they have to say.
Renz: My tip for dealing with freeloaders, is talk to them privately about their issue and tell them to contribute a little more, and if they still can’t do that talk to the unit convener about it.
Roxanne: A way to avoid a freeloader is just to be casual about everything, they're going to be like a friend at the end of the day so speak casually and give updates throughout the week.
Steven: I think a good way to address this issue, is to have a schedule so everyone knows where they need to be throughout the assignment so when it’s due, it’s all complete.
Liv: Something I would suggest in order to form a more cohesive group that can work together effectively, is having a casual conversation early in the semester about your personal strengths and weaknesses. This could be editing skills, organisational skills or even making pretty PowerPoint Presentations, but if everyone feels like they are bringing something to the table, members feel more involved and invested in the final product.
Kelly: Now, how do you deal with freeloaders? As everyone is dealing with different issues, it is good to know how your group members are doing. If they are going through a rough patch, it may be good to suggest asking the tutor or lecturer for a possible extension to the assessment. If a group member chooses to not cooperate and not give you a reason why they are failing to complete their work, send them a message to show that they need to get this particular section done by a set date.
Kelly: Once again, open communication is really important whenever you are working in a group as you do not want things to be taken the wrong way. If that fails, go to your tutor/lecturer about this group member. Remember to get your whole groups consensus about this group member to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Rachel: Like Kelly has said, start by communicating your expectations!
Rachel: This will let everyone know what they’re meant to be doing, and everyone will hold some sort of accountability over one another. So no more excuses about not understanding what your group members expect from you.
Rachel: Speaking of which, it’s great to assign each other to different sections. This means you can each work at your own pace, and if a freeloader were not to do their work, everyone would know. That's why I choose to work on google docs.
Rachel: As always, your lecturers and tutors are there to help you out. Even if they can’t make group changes, they will take that into consideration and may give you bonus points or may give your group and the freeloader different marks. Because at the end of the day, you get out what you put in to your uni or group work.
Kelly: So, we have talked about freeloaders, let’s look at the other side of the spectrum. KEENERS. I do want to make it clear that being keen to get a HD is a great goal. This goal becomes problematic when you push your own standards onto your group members which may lead to an uncomfortable environment to work in. That’s why understanding the overall expectation for the project is so important so everyone is on the same page.
Rachel: We all know this one person who is soooooo massively keen on getting that HD, this may actually be you and me. But, like Kelly said, the eagerness of the keener might set the group back and not actually motivate them to perform their best. Have you ever experienced a keener Kelly?
Kelly: I have to be really honest here and say I have low-key been a keener before. I previously had the urge to know what everyone is working on and making sure it is up to a particular standard. This usually leads me to redoing parts of other peoples work to achieve that standard. I have since learnt to give my group members room to do their work to have a diverse range of perspectives on the task at hand.
Rachel: You can easily identify a keener by thinking about the following:
Rachel: Are they obsessed with academic performance? Keeners treat every assignment, quiz, and test as if it were a life and death situation. So it may feel like they’re trying to control the working environment and you might get low-key passive aggressive messages saying “no, don’t do this” “delete everything you just wrote and change it up” or they may change whatever you wrote themselves.
Rachel: Do they have the tendency to extend group meetings and shame you for not staying back? Keeners may not really understand other people’s priorities, especially if uni work is not on top of that list.
Rachel: Lastly, a keener will have intense feelings of anxiety about the group assignment probably 3 months in advance, so they may send you one if not multiple emails and messages a day to check on your progress.
Kelly: So how can you deal with these keeners?
Kelly: Firstly, open communication is key. Just like with freeloaders, you need to voice your concerns with that person. Be sure that the other group members are on the same page as you with this keener so you can all voice your concerns. Remember to always communicate openly and respectfully!
Kelly: Layout a structure to show how everyone is going to approach each task of the assignment and have a couple of days dedicated to proofreading each other's sections.
Rachel: Now, regardless of whether you are a freeloader or a keener, you should have some common courtesy when working in a group: So first start by being more empathetic, as hard as it is, try to take the backseat every once in a while: let other people in your group work and find their mojo. If you don’t contribute at all, you may not learn anything at all and if you are intervening too much then you are not letting other people learn and get involved.
Rachel: Remember, every student’s learning experience is different. That’s why you can write a couple of sentences and see what your group thinks about it. And if you don’t like what a member has written maybe give them some article suggestions to read over and base their work off of.
Rachel: And always, before starting the group project, communicate “how does everybody feel about giving/receiving feedback?” Also consider what kind of feedback would be helpful and which would be just plain hurtful. Another way of looking at it is proof-reading each other's work for the purpose of improvement not perfection. You can split this up so everyone gets a chance to proofread a section they did not work on.
Kelly: Some people trust the process, others stress about the teeny tiny details. At the end of the day, it is important to find a balance. Work on tasks that you know you can do. For tasks you are not so sure about, leave it and come back to it. You can always ask your group members for advice and see how they would approach it.
Rachel: Thanks, once again, for listening to our podcast! Here are some key takeaways from this podcast.
Kelly: Start by communicating your expectations.
Rachel: Be respectful when voicing your concerns.
Kelly: Don’t hesitate to contact your lecturer or tutor if the concern is getting out of hand.
Kelly: Talk to you in our next podcast-
Kelly & Rachel: Until then, be a team player.
About this episode
Love it or hate it, everybody has to do it! Kelly and Rachel give their top tips on how to deal with dreaded freeloaders and intense keeners, and get some advice from UTS Students on how they approach working in a group.
Hub Guide voices in this episode:
- Renz Hernandez
- Roxanne Nguyen
- Rebecca Duong
- Steven Williams
Written and Presented by Kelly Ding & Rachel Khalef
Produced and Edited by Liv Day
Music: Spark of Inspiration – https://www.silvermansound.com/