By Alex Stanley ’12
After 12 years of formal education, I have come to dread the moment a teacher utters the phrase “group project.”
Group work is not effective for multiple reasons.
First, it seems our society has changed to where everyone is busy, and everyone has a plate so full that they feel they do not have enough hours in a day to finish everything.
The other reason may be that students are becoming less and less studious and they are always looking for a short cut or an easy way out. Either way, group projects are becoming more difficult for those who want to receive good grades.
There are three types of groups that a student can be in for a group assignment.
The first is where one person does all the work.
This is the worst group to be in and most frequently seen. In this situation, one person does the workload of many less motivated students or risks earning a bad grade.
There are many reasons for a group member to not do their share of the work, whether it is a brand new video game coming out, wanting to watch the Cardinals demolish the Bears (sorry Mr. Gaimari) or other assignments where there is no shortcut out of. You might also find yourself with a domineering group member who puts down any differing ideas, or does not allow any room for discussion.
The worst part about it is the students who did not do any work get the same grade for that project.
The second type of group is where half of the group does work and the other half does nothing.
In this group, half of the members are doubling their work to compensate for the less motivated half.
This is a step better than the first group, but still not perfect. Again, people end up with a grade they did not earn.
The last type of group, the rarest, is where everybody does work harmoniously.
Obviously, this group is the best to participate in, but even it still has its flaws.
Students are getting graded on the work that other people did. The student’s grade does not reflect what they have learned and done individually, only as a whole.
Teachers justify group work by saying students need to learn how to work with other people.
They justify it further by pointing out that the Tablets make access with group members a lot easier, whether by e-mailing work or using something like Skype to share ideas.
The fault in their argument is that the only thing studious students end up learning is that group projects are not helpful and definitely not fun.
In contrast, all the procrastinating and uninterested students learn is they just need to find someone who is willing to do their work for them.
This education example can be related to the job market.
In the work place if a person does not do any work they will get fired, leaving them jobless and penniless.
Procrastinators and lazy workers are continuously cut out of the job industry, especially in tough economic times, leaving only people who do their work, whether they want to or not.
This is the main difference between the career world and school; in school students earn grades that only have value under the surface, and in jobs workers earn money which has value on the surface. Whether like your job or not, you have to earn a paycheck.
If for this reason alone, teachers are not really preparing students for the future by assigning them group work.
They are merely creating a more painful experience for good students, and making a haven for those who do less work.
It seems that the motto “men for others” has taken the meaning of students doing extra work for those who do not want to.
Teachers: do not assign group projects because they do not reflect the true grades of students, and they are hurting everyone in the long run.