You have probably seen something similar before. You assign a joint project to your students and allow them three weeks to complete it. You start with complete buy-in, and they are excited to see what they will come up with but then you run into problems a week later. There is no progress being made by the students. Only one of the groups has begun, while another has had fifteen false starts since they keep changing their mind.
You consider allowing more class time for them to finish their projects before the due date, but that would sidetrack the curriculum altogether. Effective time management requires a good amount of strategic planning, especially when you are responsible for 25 students if not more.
Deadlines are part of life and project management is a skill that must be deeply ingrained in your students for them to be successful in life. Powerful tools such as Studyo’s School Planner and Today are online programs that have proven to be effective to remedy the procrastination, or simply poor time management that many students are afflicted by.
Students should be guided through the project management process. Kids will continue to have difficulty meeting deadlines and procrastination will continue to be a problem. However, project management is a talent that can be developed over time. Students must think about their work differently as they learn how to optimize their time and develop their personal methodology.
What makes a project successful?
The main predictors of what makes a project successful are:
- Relevance and authenticity
- Clarity of instructions
- Equal contribution
- Individual accountability
- Team accountability
For students to succeed, the design of a group project is critical. The numerous factors of successful projects have been the object of multiple research, and many recurring elements resurface regardless of the nature of the project. Here is a more elaborated understanding of these factors:
Relevance and authenticity: A project should be relevant and the subject matter should be on a salient topic. Students should not have to make the cliché science fair volcano ad aeternam. In addition to relevance, teachers should take into consideration the overall workload of their students in other classes to ensure the feasibility of their project.
Clarity of instructions: The guidelines for the project should be concise and comprehensive. Some classroom time should be taken to go over each point and to disentangle any confusion.
Equal contribution: Most successful projects are the result of successful teamwork. Students should know that their contribution will be assessed as to incentivize them to do their fair amount of work.
Individual accountability: This sense of responsibility is one of the prime reasons why students accomplish group projects. They have to understand that their decisions and actions have consequences when toiling.
Team accountability: Teamwork is part of what makes us human. A successful project requires communication skills, collective strategic planning, and collaboration.
8 Tips to Manage Your Study Projects Like a Pro
Here are 8 tips to manage your study project like a pro:
- Set project goals
- Create deadlines
- Find resources
- Organize meetings
- Delegate work
- Use powerful tools
- Monitor, adjust & problem solve
- Avoid perfectionism
1. Set Project Goals
When given a task to accomplish, it is important to divide and conquer every step that must be taken to realize successful projects. This implies that the premise of the assignment is fully understood as well as how the work will be evaluated. A project goal is an objective that provides content for the final product, and that is created in function of the requirements of the project.
Although there is still a lot of work to be done after determining the objectives of a project, those participating in the endeavor will be capable of working fluidly as the next steps were already anticipated. Project plans are the blueprints of successful projects and a core concept of strategic planning.
2. Create Deadlines
Students can then split the project down into tasks and subtasks with specific deadlines after they have set goals. Teachers frequently assign external deadlines to various phases of a project. However, this may obviate the need for project management expertise. Students must understand that they can take control of the project by creating their personal deadlines for the sake of time management.
Students frequently picture each step of a job in this setting, bridging the gap between abstract concepts and concrete actions. Students must think realistically about what is required in terms of time and tangible actions throughout this phase. This is an extremely important aspect of project management.
3. Find Resources
The result of any project will depend on the strength of its resources. The most efficient starting point available to students to find resources is the Internet. Computers and tablets have more content than the library of Alexandria ever had. Therefore, teachers should suggest a certain online database for quality resources.
Teachers should encourage trips to the library or alternative sources of information if they are legitimate (podcast, radio, newspapers, etc.). Additionally, the resources available to the team aren’t all necessarily online or on bookshelves, successful projects are often the result of the combination of the strength of its team members.
Resources can also be powerful tools or online programs that establish a good communication amongst students working together or learning management systems that help visualize the timeline of the project.
4. Organize Meetings
Organizing meetings may be useful depending on the complexity of the task at hand. These should take place outside of class time, and their function is for individual team members to share what they have done so far. Meetings are the perfect moment to voice concerns or ask for help.
Organizing meetings can reinforce the bond between team members and reduce the anxiety that an important study project can generate in some. Team and individual accountability are also put to the test during these exchanges, and members of the project should reflect if they are doing their fair share of work.
5. Delegate Work
Delegating the work load that is generated by a common goal is a vital part of strategic planning. The initial moment for the work to be divided is when the team is assembled after the project goals are determined. Teachers should emphasize that when delegating work, teams should take into consideration the strength of its members to be more efficient.
6. Use Powerful Tools
Complementary online programs can ease communication amongst members and optimize time management. Studyo’s school planner reduces complexities that arise when working on a project. Students cannot always manage the work of their teammates but what they can have control over is their own time.
Students have to effectively juggle multiple school tasks at once, and still find time to participate in extracurricular activities. Digital school planners help students organize their time in consequence of their obligations.
7. Monitor, Adjust, and Problem Solve
While tasks and deadlines are important for project management, things don't always go as planned. Students can have the most well-thought-out plans in the world, but life will still happen. For instance, a member of the group can become ill or the parents of a student can decide to go on vacation suddenly in the middle of the year.
Students will be required to solve problems and deal with concerns as they emerge. Plans are subject to change. However, students who are able to overcome these obstacles develop their problem-solving and critical thinking. Depending on the situation and its severity, teachers should demonstrate some leniency, especially with COVID-19 looming.
8. Avoid perfectionism
When taking on a project, it is human nature to strive for perfection. However, there are many variables and unanticipated events that might sabotage results. Instead of striving for perfection, students should concentrate on completing the project's objectives. Successful projects are not necessarily those with the highest marks. Learning a valuable lesson about yourself as a student and human being is more enriching than an A+.
How to Elevate Your Next Project
Studyo helps students build life skills by becoming autonomous and organized. Our school planner includes features like progress tracking, customizable layouts, and step-by-step task breakdowns, making it easy to stay organized and plan out schoolwork. With Studyo’s online program, students can come to every class prepared to learn and tackle any project that comes their way.
Studyo is not only for students! It makes life easier for teachers and parents alike by building a dependable virtual bridge between home and school, while simultaneously orienting students toward their potential.