It goes without saying that the group can start working as soon as the assignment is given. (As my assignments are described in the course outline, there is no excuse for last minute drama.) Functional groups start thinking and collecting information immediately and give themselves time to do good work before the time crunch with midterms and assignments in other courses. Even those who prefer to work at the last minute can do great work in a functional team simply by scheduling the “last minute” to have a definition other than the “due date”.
Starting early as a group also helps the group dynamics get through the forming and storming stages and actually work as a team. Functional groups celebrate the contributions of the members, get together out of class time to practice and give feedback, and generally consider themselves to be a team. The buzz on the Blackboard group page is obvious, and even though there are no points given for those activities, when group assignments are marked, these are always the groups that rise to the top of the term-work leaderboard. The quality of the work speaks for itself.