Collaborative learning with others can be a great way to develop your skills when working with a team.
Being a graduate student can be an isolating experience, especially when you feel overwhelmed by your workload, so meeting with your peers from class is an easy solution for both issues. However, not everyone gets along, and working with others presents challenges that can be hard to navigate.
Improving Intrapersonal Skills
Working with others can provide perspectives from people from different backgrounds than yourself, diversifying your perspective. Peer collaboration offers an opportunity to share knowledge with your peers. Similarly, when you work with your peers, you can share resources. Not only will working together help you to understand the material better, but it will also give you a chance to share notes, textbooks, etc. This collaboration also allows you to practice skills developed when working with others, such as project management, leadership, and communication.
Building Connections through Collaborative Learning
Collaborating with your peers can provide an outlet for you to share feelings of stress when the workload feels overwhelming with people who understand because they are in the same boat. Collaborating with others in graduate school can also help with networking. When people hear networking, they think of golf courses or career fairs, but working with fellow students can grow your network and even provide different career or research opportunities.
Learning From Conflict
Only some people are compatible, and it is okay if you and others disagree on specific goals within your work. This situation is challenging, but it does provide an opportunity for you to learn conflict resolution and working with people who differ from you. A big issue that arises when working with others and sometimes even leads to conflict is when certain group members feel that they are taking on an unequal amount of work compared to others in the group. Ways to combat this issue is to split the work equitably, assigning a role to everyone within the group. Another way is to acknowledge when a group member contributes to the project. This acknowledgment not only brings attention to the accomplishment of that group member but also motivates the rest of the group to work just as hard.
Developing as an Individual
An issue you might find when working with your peers is an overreliance on working with others. While brainstorming with your peers occasionally can inspire new ideas, consistently relying on them might hinder your project development skills. Similarly, try to avoid “groupthink.” Conforming your thinking and suppressing ideas that go against the grain will also inhibit your development as a professional.
Many aspects of working with others rely on effective communication. To learn more about strengthening your communication skills to be more effective at collaborative learning, click here to read more.