04 April 2011

Why Group Projects Don't Work

First off, this is a totally biased post, simply because I absolutely hate group projects.  Why you may wonder?  Because in 32 years of life, I have only had one group project that was put together so that everyone had an equal distribution of work.

Let's face it.  When a teacher or a professor gives out a group project, how does it usually go?  You get a topic, some basic instructions, and then you have to figure out how to distribute the work amongst the group.  What inevitably happens?  One or a few of the group does all the work, one or two don't do anything.  Then you get a "group" grade regardless of the quality of individual work or individual effort.  A group project, as it is normally put together, simply is not fair.  It is not graded on how well you all worked together or how well you were able to assign certain tasks, simply the end product, which is normally done by a small portion of the group.

The one that worked--it still sucked, but at least everyone had something specific they were suppose to do, assigned by the professor NOT each group member.  We were to each review two books and together help those reviews to be ready to send to a review board.  Why it still sucked? Because everyone had different ideas of what makes a review good and none of them turned out to be what the professor thought.  Why it worked? The teacher assigned specific parts for each group member, and although we received a group grade, we also received individual grades on our parts.

I understand the premise behind group projects--its suppose to teach us how to work together.  But let's face it, it's not working.  I don't care what grade you are in.  You have the ones that do all the work because they don't want to get a bad grade, you have the ones that don't care and so let everyone else do the work, you have the ones that sit back because they have no idea what to do, and so on and so on.  So please!!!! Teachers and professors, if you are going to insist on group projects, you have to have ones that are clearly defined.  Ones in which rules and guidelines are clearly and completely spelled out, where each person has a particular task to complete, and it is their job to get that section done--if they don't, they pay the consequences, not the group.  Of course, that can cause problems, since if they choose not to do their part, the project is actually incomplete.  Oh what a quandary!!  Solution--cut it out with the stupid group projects!! I've never met a single person who actually enjoys them.

Now, if there are those out there who do enjoy them, could you let me in on the secret? Why do you like group projects? Or do you totally agree? Why do you hate them then?

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