Benefits and challenges when working in team

| 9 Comments

I am really happy to work with my partner, Keng. We can learn from each other, and consequently, it made us more efficient to accomplish the iteration 1.

3081 is a writing course. I am not good at writing. Although English is also a second language for Keng, his English is pretty good. Therefore, he can help me correct my writing in the project. Furthermore, when we run into a question, the TA usually does not know what I am trying to ask. But he can describe it properly, so we can ask the TA easily or Google it ourselves. On the other hand, Keng is familiar with the command line. He knows many useful commands. For example, if I want to open Emacs using command line, I would type "Emacs". After that, I need to open another terminal since my original process switch to run Emacs. Then Keng taught me that I could type "Emacs &", then it would create a daemon process which runs Emacs, and I could still use the terminal. It is pretty convenient.

We think thoroughly about the puzzles in the project before we met. For example, I did not know how to make a string or a line comment in regular expression. So I bore this question in my mind, and discussed it with Keng when we met. Then we Googled it and each kept trying on our own. I used to write many codes before this class so that I could implement our ideas quickly. We finally finished it through our efforts. Because we knew the specific questions before we began to work, so it would be more efficient to figure them out in group together. Therefore, we can write down our specific questions of the future iteration before we work together. This ensures the same benefits occur next time.

Although there are a lot of benefits to work together, challenges sometimes arise. First of all, we need to find time that we are both available to meet. But this semester is crazy. Homework and projects are published one by one. I do not have any free time. I think Keng is also busy this semester, so we do not have very much time to meet. Thus, I tried to do some of the work by myself. I finished all of the required regular expressions before we met. Although this was a time-consuming task, it was pretty simple to do it since I just needed to copy them one by one, and then modify them a little bit. Therefore, it was easy for us to do the remaining parts when we worked together. If we do not have very much time available for the following meeting, we can keep in touch with each other through email, and come up with an outline of the project. Using this process, we will just need to consider the tiny details when we work together. As I mentioned before, my English is not very good. When we work together, sometimes I do not understand what Keng means, and sometimes he also does not know what I am trying to say. Still, he is patient enough to talk with or listen to me. Thus, English has not been a big challenge until now. But I should note that I need to practice my English frequently. It is not only important for this project in 3081, but is also one of my key priorities while studying in the U.S.

There is another challenge that would not have occurred in a single-programmer environment. Because I am a bit of a control freak, I always want to change my partner's code to my style. It is a bad habit of working with others. If I have already hurt Keng, I am really sorry about that. Maybe this problem has not yet occurred, but I used to do it last semester. Keng is a pretty nice guy, and I should keep in mind that this project is both of ours, so I should respect his work. I can organize our codes together, but cannot change his code. I hope this is not a challenge for us in the future.

9 Comments

You have a challenge that many students in this class don't have and that is a language barrier between group members (although I think there is also a fair number of people who deal with this). Your post is a good balance between technical issues [use of the command line] and interpersonal issues [personality and schedule]. Keep up the communication lines, and might I suggest defining a joint style that you both can use? That way it's clearly defined and a goal you can both work towards.
-Elsa Dosh

I do think you learnt a lot during the first iteration. If two guys are able to work together fine, it greatly increases the efficiency and is much more fun.

Yanjie Zhang

Language barrier is definitely a problem when working together. I sometimes find it difficult to explain myself on what i am doing. I think when time goes by, this is gonna be solved.


Yanjie Zhang

I can relate to the control-freak issue. I think agreeing upon a defined style is great for a job, but it can take a long time to come up with the definition for a simple semester project. I like your idea of leaving his code as is. I wish I could implement that level of respect, but i'm too freaky! I think open communication is good. You might find that some of his conventions are based on deeply held beliefs, and some are arbitrary to him. If you change a particular 'phrase', then find that he has changed that very same 'phrase' back to its old form, you have most likely a stumbled upon a representative candidate for a deeply held belief.

Gregory Setterholm

Hi, I totally agree with your points on the benefits of working with others. I think we can learn a lot of things either related to or not related to programming from our lab partners. My first language is not English either and I was also having a hard time on self-explaining when I was trying to ask questions to the TAs.My lab partner also helped me out many times and I notice that my English have improved a lot, since we had lots of discussions when we were working on the projects.And I saw that you mentioned that you always want to change your lab partners' code to your coding style. My lab partner and I also had this kind of conflicts when we were working on iteration1. Sometimes it feels bad when seeing others modify your code.It feels like that your work has been disapproved. However, I think it is really true that ,as you mentioned, we should always remember that this is a group project. And it is important for us to be respectful to others' work and their idea. Hope you guys could successfully overcome all the conflicts and good luck!

I know you very well and I totally agree with you about your "control freak issue". Actually, You are a talented programmer and you have lots of experience in programming, which means you've already formed your own style and it's hard to admit that others' code is better than yours. This is a big issue. In your further programming life, it will be a barrier for your improvement. Anyway, I have the same problem with you and I hope we can get rid of it together!

Yujing Sun

Hey, I agree with the benefits you stated about working with a partner. I actually did not know about the emacs & on the command line. This will help me out as well! I think the best part about having a partner is that we can learn from each other over the course of the semester. Although the english barrier can be tough, it is great that your partner can help you out and communicate your questions to the TA. While being a 'control freak' can sometimes be an issue with your partner, sometimes it is nice to have the code in a specific order that is easy to read. You may want to let your partner know that it is nothing personal and that you just like to have it in a specific way. This could help with possible conflicts in the future.

Jackson Spencer

Hey, I agree with the benefits you stated about working with a partner. I actually did not know about the emacs & on the command line. This will help me out as well! I think the best part about having a partner is that we can learn from each other over the course of the semester. Although the english barrier can be tough, it is great that your partner can help you out and communicate your questions to the TA. While being a 'control freak' can sometimes be an issue with your partner, sometimes it is nice to have the code in a specific order that is easy to read. You may want to let your partner know that it is nothing personal and that you just like to have it in a specific way. This could help with possible conflicts in the future.

Jackson Spencer

I think I have faced a similar challenge with my partner. Both of our schedule's this semester are extremely busy and sometimes it is difficult arrange a time to meet. But by dividing our work and using subversion extensively, we are able to equally contribute to our projects.

Ajay Jashnani

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This page contains a single entry by xuxxx728 published on October 13, 2011 9:18 PM.

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