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Applying Creative and Critical Thinking

I was the group leader of an academic group where we had been assigned duties. The course was Statistics and the instructor had given out assignments to each group. The final exam would involve a debate on the Introduction to Probability. Our group comprised of four people and we decided to distribute roles. I was given the role of researching for the materials for the presentations of the debate. This presented a problem for me in that I was also in charge of the group. The cause of the problem was the disunity and the consequent disorganization of the team members that jeopardized the research process.

The problem started when the group members started complaining that the roles they were awarded was too difficult and impossible to perform. One group member claimed that he had been given too much work and another claimed that hers was too difficult to be complete in a fortnight. These complaints by various members of the team were further heightened when we all met for a discussion after the school lectures. Everyone then decided to down their tools and quit the group. It was at this moment that I realized I had a problem of resolving these disputes and bringing the group members together.

First, I had to bring all the group members together in one location. This was very difficult and I had to be tactful. I decided to inform each group member separately that I would like to meet him or her individually. They all accepted only to realize that they were all in one room together. I had to take a firm stand with all of them in order to silence them. After the silence, I informed them of the responsibility that was ahead of them; what was required by the instructor, the debate and the unity of the group. Then, I proceeded to reconcile the differences among the group.

The issue of disunity in the group was the first problem. Each group member was not in direct communication with the other. No members of the group had ever discussed the different parts of the research and the debate as a group. Therefore, I had to make sure that the group was communicating as a unit. I told all the group members the importance of expressing their disinterest and disappointment in the group’s progress. Then I requested each group member to apologize to each other for all the wrong things they had said to each other. After they had apologized to each other, we had a session of three hours where we discussed at length each chapter of the project. The result was that we covered the different parts that each group member had been given.

The next problem that I had to solve was the issue of new roles to be distributed to the group members. The current roles that had been distributed were not being received in a cordial way. Therefore, I decided to ask the group members where the problem was. One member commented that her role was far too advanced and was not really her area of knowledge. Another group member said that he was not clearly informed as to how he would get research materials. I decided to let the group members choose which roles they would like to take up. Each group member then went on and selected the topic they felt most comfortable in tackling. The group members were now more comfortable with each other and with their new topics.

Lastly, there was the problem of presenting the project in the debate. Although we had carefully prepared every element of the project, we still had no preparations in speech making. I had to solve this problem too. I decided to seek the assistance of a lecturer on public speaking who came in one evening and lectured the group on the proper ways to address a large gathering. This was particularly useful as the group gained more confidence in me as a leader and in them as a group. In the end, we gave an excellent presentation that enabled us get good grades.

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