Reflective writing allows an individual to identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses and enhance their future performance. In this reflective essay, I am going to discuss about my experience of working in a group. Teamwork encourages people to express their thoughts and can as a result boost their confidence. Using Gibbs’ (1988) reflection model, I will be reflecting on the experiences I had as part of a group of 5 students, critically analysing my contribution and performance within the group, as well as suggesting possible improvements in any future group activity.
Each member of the group had the responsibility to research information about a specific company. Each person made an important contribution to the initiation of this project. At our first meeting as a group, we tried to select a company and assign different roles to each member of the team in order to make our research much easier. I was appointed as a note taker to gather all the ideas and information together. During the meetings, I found that I did participate, but not to the extent that I would have liked. Overall, all the group members came to know each other and we tried to find possible solutions to successfully complete the tasks assigned.
As an international first-year student, I was relatively quiet during our first meeting as I was unfamiliar with the topic and I did not know how I can effectively contribute my views and ideas to the group discussion. In the third week, I was still not able to make any progress in my research due to the lack of communication between myself and the group. However, as we progressed I had begun to gain more confidence and through better communication between the group members I was able to understand more about the topic and my role in this group. As King and Lawley (2019) claim ‘communication is the transfer of meaning or information from one person, or several, to another’ (p382). In retrospect, I believed that the structure of the project was an excellent beginning, but because I felt anxious about making a mistake and due the experience of self-censorship that came as a consequence of this anxiety, I realised that we had insufficient time to complete the tasks assigned. I started to panic and imagine that we could not finish our research and as a result I was afraid that we will not be able finish the project on time.
Overall, the experience of working in a group was beneficial in that it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the topic and improve my confidence in sharing my own ideas. Through these first 5 weeks of learning and being a part of this group experience as a student, I think that effective communication played an important role within our team. Looking back, I would attribute my only regrets regarding the group task to this inability to contribute more due to the lack of communication between the team members. After recognizing the importance of communication, we made sure that each member can contribute to the group discussions. Hence when a member of the team was not able to attend the meeting, the leader of the group told us that it is better to wait until that person is present, so we can consider the ideas of all members. It was important to realize that every person in the group needs to take responsibility for what they do. Even though we had moments when we could not communicate effectively, we managed to make progress and I think this helped us to work harder.
The evolution of our project depended on the work we were doing every day and I believe that besides communication, the way we manage to organise ourselves played an important role. During the past 5 weeks, we went through several phases, trying to outline our project and I believe that these phases can be better described by the Tuckman and Jensen’s (1977) five stages of group formation. The model talks about how groups can evolve through different stages. At the beginning, we did not know each other and we did not know how to effectively communicate our ideas. According to Tuckman and Jensen’s (1977), this was the ‘forming’ stage in which we were trying get to know each other and familiarise ourselves with the topic. The second stage is represented by ’storming’ in which we were becoming closer to each other and begun to share our views and ideas about the topic. We had conflicts as every other groups, but we tried to resolve the problems as a group and I believe this can relate to the third stage, ‘norming’. The next stage ‘performing’ can be associated with the meetings that we had in which we helped each other complete each task, but I think this stage has not ended, because we are still in the process of finalising each task assigned. The final stage ‘adjourning’ cannot be related with any experience, because we did not finish our project and we are still a group that tries to reach the desired outcome.
The significance of this activity was to make us aware of the importance of teamwork. Through this experience, I learned that working in a group can help me discover the real personalities of other students. It helped me realise what I am capable of and what I should improve about the way I approach things. I acknowledge that I should have been more involved in this project and I should have been more open to members. This weakness is not caused by a lack of intellectual understanding but rather from a lack of confidence in my own ideas.
In the future, it would be better for me, as a student, to improve my communication and presentation skills. Being a shy person, it is hard for me to share my own ideas and sometimes this can be one of my weaknesses. Moreover, I will try to speak my mind when I am insecure, because this can benefit the outcome of the project. I want to believe that every experience I will go through will teach me how to be a better person and how to think and react in any situation.