As a dear friend half jokingly mentioned on his Facebook status, "I love free riders because they sharpen my skills'. But remember, this comes at a cost to you-whether you realize it or not. So be wary of bailing out the other group members always. Some things I and others found useful are
- Coopt whom you know/someone vouched for-track records is a good indicator of the tendency to free ride in the future!
- Smaller group size-for evident reasons, smaller groups easier to manage
- Split task into modules, allot to each person/sub group-that ensures accountability
- Meet atleast once-it is then easier to coordinate online/over phone
- Keep same group across subjects/events if possible-that makes an equitable division more probably if you play multiple shot games with the same team rather than single shot games, and also allows for unexpected adjustments later! Also, one learns more about the group with later stages, and can accordingly predict better about task times.
- Have a coordinator-implicit or explicit-while most groups tend to form one, not having that is a recipe for disaster. so someone HAS to take the initiative, atleast for each task and the buck must stop there, else recipe for disaster.
- Informal meetings to celebrate good grades/meetings over coffee etc all help build the required rapport, needed when you need to appeal to a member to sacrifice his night's sleep to help finish the group task(for example).