by Nichole "What Happens in Vegas" Coster, Director of Social Media and Web Content Manager
It’s a pretty common occurrence: you’re class is assigned a major project, and you’re grouped into teams to complete it.
Then the complaining begins.
When I work in a group, I always end up doing more than my fair share. When I work in a group, it takes so much longer to complete the project. When I work in a group, I get so stressed out.
Conflict takes many forms in a group dynamic—dissent, irrationality, incivility, diverse backgrounds and cultures, burnout, and even past experiences can cause frustration as we attempt to work as a team to problem-solve or achieve a goal.
My team wants to accept submissions that I don’t like. Our journal sequence makes no sense to me. I don’t think the social media team does any work.
But, aren’t we on the same team? Shouldn’t we all just act like adults and avoid conflict?
No. A little conflict in a group helps produce the best possible outcomes. When equal consideration is given for the task at hand and the group participants, a true collaboration can occur. All members of the team support each other as they work towards a shared goal, and as a result, they are likely to accomplish something greater than any one of them could independently.
ENGL 414 & 415, Editing the Literary Magazine I & II, attracts students from different majors, interests, and goals. The diverse personalities and skillsets of students who work on this journal are an asset to the publication. Working through stress and conflict together over two semesters motivates and bonds staff members, and the experience becomes more than coursework. It’s not ENGL 414 & 415—it’s Grub Street.
Entire class periods spent pondering the ethos of Grub Street will inspire and motivate some students and utterly bore others. The prospect of publicizing the journal with class visits and social media posts will be the most important task to some and an afterthought to others. Eight hours of proofreading first pages of the journal will be a drop in the bucket for some and an unreasonable workload to others.
The lessons of Editing the Literary Magazine I & II go beyond those listed in the TU course catalogue descriptions. Our changing economy has given rise to flatter organizational communication, and students will graduate into a professional environment with more teams, less ridged hierarchical management, and more accountability. Those students who embrace team work, and really work on their interpersonal communication skills are likely to be rewarded with more professional successes, richer professional relationships, and leadership roles in their careers.
Grub Street is Towson University's award-winning literary journal, run by undergraduates enrolled in "Editing the Literary Magazine."