This qualitative study explored students’ experience of collaborating to undertake a neuromusculoskeletal group research project which was conducted in partial fulfilment of their MSc course. A phenomenological approach was adopted to gain insight into participants’ experience of learning and working in a group.

Six participants who were all alumni took part in individual telephone interviews conducted by an independent researcher. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis identified four main themes: the role of the supervisor, peer assisted learning, quality enhancement and learning to work in a research team. Participants felt that group projects facilitated their confidence in the research process. This has been demonstrated as two of the alumni have presented their projects at conferences and published in an international journal. Some of the alumni found working in a group challenging, but were able to reflect on the skills which they learned through managing the group dynamics. The potential benefits of group projects are an increase in peer assisted learning, the development of problem solving and critical reasoning, enhanced communication and team skills. The presence of a group member who fails to contribute has been identified as a potential constraint.

Reflection on emerging themes highlighted the importance of the supervisor’s role in facilitating the process. A framework for supervising group research projects work has been produced to facilitate others in supervising to best effect; this will feed into staff and curriculum development.