In biology class last semester, we had to do a group test. There were four students in each group and there were a series of test questions which we had to answer as a group and then submit at the end.
This was quite a stressful experience as the members of the group often disagreed as to what was the correct answer to a question. Sometimes all four member disagreed, and sometimes two of the four members agreed on an answer, but the other two did not.
In an ordinary piece of group work, this wouldn’t have been stressful, but as this was for a test, we were all very keen to get a high grade and we wanted to get the answers to the questions correct. However, we all had to agree on an answer to each question.
The group found it difficult to work together and remain calm and friendly, while also desiring to do well on the test.
As the test went on, the members were becoming increasingly fraught as they had to fight their corner about the answer to each question.
Eventually, I recognised that this was happening, and that I was being affected. I initiated a short discussion with the group, suggesting that we take a minute to relax and calm down and then we could calmly discuss each question.
I also discovered that by allowing one member to answer the question with how they wanted, they were subsequently less aggressive about the next question, and were more open to the prospect that someone else may have the correct answer.
This experience was a valuable one as it taught me the importance of avoiding frustration, and of remaining calm within a group setting, even when there is a lot at stake.