Group Formation

We provide here the attributes which are a necessary part of team work. In a team or group you will probably want a range of different skills within these attributes, rather than all of one type of attribute. So you will discuss with your peers the following six aspects of team work and find people who are different as well as compatible with you to form a group of SIX people.

Roles in a team.

The first important aspect of working in groups is that people take different roles. This may alternate during the session, but whoever is in each role must respect the relationship between the different roles. The roles you may use are listed at the end of this exercise and are not all specific to Computer Science and Engineering, but relate to any team work.

In team work, you follow role your for the duration of the project and you respect the role that other people in your group are taking. If you are in a meeting you respect the project manager as the chair of the meeting. You do not talk over them, or argue with them. You talk clearly so the Notetaker can hear you. You respect the Timekeeper when they express the need to move on, or keep to the topic. At all times, you must be aware of the group as it is functioning, as it is the group which will achieve the project, not just you.

If there are any problems with the group, go outside the group for help. See your mentor, then if need be, the lecturer. Through your life you will find in any group there is always outside help eg the Section Manager, who can help if there are problems. However be prepared to accept their decision too.

Group Attribute 1. What is your best experience of team work:

  1. With my friends: This may be to organise a BBQ, a soccer team, whatever. You have worked with your friends and lost a few as you realised you cannot work together
  2. At school: You worked in teams on school projects for computing or science. You found the group a chance to talk about what you were learning with your peers. You used the time to focus on our work or you tended to chat.
  3. At work in a small team: You have worked in a team, maybe in a shop, or an small company. You have had to organise your work so that your efforts supported each other and did not conflict. You spent most time sharing ideas and comparing notes.
  4. As an engineer: You have worked in a software team which involved a large development and you needed to work along side each other, sharing the load, and comparing notes as your ideas and the customer requirements changed. You spent most meeting time checking you all agreed on the design and what you were doing.

Discuss: What do you like about groups

Group Attribute 2: What do you think is your most important asset to the group:

  1. You are a leader: You are able to direct and coordinate the activities of other team members. You will continually assess the team performance, assign tasks, develop your knowledge of the team function and motivate the other team member
  2. You are a team worker: You are able to take direction and coordinate with the other members. You are able to re-plan your work based on changed in the team and accept changes enforced by the team leader.
  3. You are a facilitator: You do not like a leadership role, but are aware of how the team is relating and functioning. You will improve your knowledge of the team functions continually throughout the project and suggest changes to improve the team. You cannot accept others planning your work unless you are involved in the decision making, so you contribute to the meetings and facilitate in problem solving
  4. You are an observer: You do not like to be involved in the team process in terms of assigning tasks to giving instructions, and tend to hesitate to express your wishes in the team environment. However you are aware of how others are functioning in the group and will discreetly try to encourage trust and a well functioning team. You will express your concerns about issues that arise to the team leader in private or the person concerned. You will seek and evaluate information about what is affecting the team functioning and you will be able to clarify to yourself the team roles throughout the project.

Discuss: How does your work help the team

Group Attribute 3: How do you respond to team functioning, both good and bad?

  1. Monitoring: You will be able to monitor how the group is performing as you have some experience in groups. You will use this to feed back to others how you think the team is going, suggest short term goals and ensure everyone is clear about the goal and contributing to the outcome.
  2. Learning: You are interested in studying the team as it progresses to increase your team experience and ability to work in teams. You will make suggestions about what you think if happening, and will encourage others to trust each other. You will be facilitating self-correction.
  3. Passive: You are not keen on the idea of working in teams, so you will not interfere in the team functioning. You see this as the role of the team leader and you will delegate this work to them, and follow their direction. However, you can offer your computing skills to anyone who needs some help.
  4. Critical: You have experience in team work and have seen many failures. You tend to be wary of the process and have many concerns that you can express to the team. However your main aim is still for the team to perform at its optimum level by all members being accountable for their work and talk about your common purpose.

Discuss: What sort of ways do teams work that you cannot cope with easily. How do others with your type of response cope with this.

Group Attribute 4: What do you do in a work crisis?

  1. Hard worker: If others in the team are not able to complete their tasks you are able to spend time on catch up. You will always be on top of all aspects of the work so you can pick up the slack at any point. However in the next stage of the project you would expect the person who missed their task to do some of your work in exchange.
  2. Confronting: You are aware of the crises that can occur in team work and will be alert to problems. You will identify problems for the rest of the team and suggest action, through the project manager. You will confront the problem and bargain with the members to find a resolution
  3. Problem solver: When there is need to change the team workload you can see how to do this and ensure that the team keeps sharing the load in an equitable manner. You will keep in mind who can cover each job to avoid delays in the team reacting to problems. You will seek outside help such as the tutor if you have no solution within the team.
  4. Avoid Change: You do not like the work load being changed on you without sufficient notice so you will ensure that you provide work in time and monitor that others do the same. To ensure that you are comfortable with the group you will keep the project manager alert to any issues you have with work load.

Discuss: How has your approached helped in a crisis

Group Attribute 5: What is your attitude to team work?

  1. Loner: You would rather work alone. However the session problem is too big for you to handle, so you will have to coordinate and integrate your work with the other team members. You will be highly focused on your work and productive team member. You will explain your understanding of the project at all time to the team so that you all share a common mental model of what you are doing.
  2. Experience: You find it interesting to work in a team and share ideas in brainstorming sessions. You tend to support other team members and encourage their ideas. You try to predict and anticipate the needs of other team members and the things they might find difficult.
  3. Skilled: You see the team as a chance to expand your knowledge of teams and of computer engineering. For you the team is like a study group for the course and a chance to develop better strategies for project management
  4. Friendship: You see the team as a chance to enjoy the project by sharing time with new friends while you work. The project will be a chance to meet and talk, get to know each other and share information, not just on the project, but also on why you are at University, etc. You will ensure the team is a friendly environment where you can trust each other and admit mistakes without anger or fear.

Discuss: Why you need to work in teams as engineers

Group Attribute 6: What is your learning style?

As well as working in a group we want you to be learning from your group. People learn in different ways, so it is worth being aware of how you and others in the group may be learning.

The categories of learning styles are based on your preferred approach to a learning task:

  • doing (active experimentation)
  • watching (reflective observation)

and your typical emotional response to a new concept or skill in learning:

  • feeling (concrete experience)
  • thinking (abstract conceptualisation)

The four categories of learning styles are as follows. Select one that most reflects your learning approach or style:

  • Activist combines preferences for doing and feeling.
  • Reflector combines preferences for watching and doing.
  • Theorist combines preferences for watching and thinking.
  • Pragmatist combines preferences for thinking and doing.


Which is your preferred learning style and how will this work in a group with people of different styles. Can you work together or should a group consist of one type.

Group Attribute 7: How motivated are you to do well in your work on the project?

Exercise: In the combined groups discuss why you selected that particular category of grade then select your group from within this grade category.

  • I can work enough to achieve a Pass
  • I will work enough to achieve a Credit
  • I will work hard to achieve a Distinction
  • I will focus on this subject to achieve a Higher-Distinction

When you have joined those with the same goal within this category, we want you to...

Select your team:

Now that you have discussed these attributes of individuals with your group, we want you to select group of people who are not your friends, but who you think you could work with for the session.

Communicate with your team:

You will swap contacts (phone email) and select a time to meet.

Roles in your team:

You will also work out the group role of each member for the session, both your role at meetings, and your role in the project. The suggested roles are as follows, and people may have more than one role, or the roles may reflect a member's main contribution, but not their only contribution.

Development roles

a) Developer/Programmer (may be more than one)

b) Requirements Analyst (may be more than one)

c) System designer (may be more than one)

d) Document inspector/reader (may assign so each member is a reader for one other member)

Group meeting roles – these may be selected on a rotational basis, but select one for the first week

a) Project Manager. You keep track of what the team is doing, who is doing it and are they on time

b) Note Taker. You Keep minutes and focus meeting on what was planned previously

c) Time keeper. You keep the team on time and on topic at meeting

Claude Sammut 2014