Why group projects are the death of college students

All college students have to experience the dreaded task of being a part of a group project. Students understand that group projects are constructed to students the opportunity to learn effective interpersonal communication skills, but do they serve the purpose professors intend them to have?

The intricate behaviors of each of the team members are a project in itself. Group members are forced to understand the personalities and work ethics of what is oftentimes a complete stranger, and must adapt to their habits for several weeks for the hopes of making the best possible grade. These tasks can prove to be necessary to our college experience; however, they can also be detrimental to the students’ grades that have given their utmost effort throughout the duration of the project.

In almost every group project, there are roles that each member intentionally play, but there are also the roles that those members play unknowingly: the leader, the slacker, the broken promisor and the constantly baffled. While it is likely that there is one of each of these roles in every group, some groups may lack one role, or often some of the members may display one or more of these roles. These roles are inevitable to escape. By having to acclimate to these different roles, students get the ability to learn not only how to multitask, but how to deal with every possible scenario that could occur within a project.

According to Carnegie Mellon University, “group projects require that students not only have the same skills and knowledge they would need for individual projects, but also an entirely different set of process-related skills: the ability to work with others to assess the nature of the task, break it down into steps or stages, plan a strategy, share responsibilities, manage time, set and meet deadlines, communicate effectively, and resolve disagreements or conflicts if they arise. When students lack teamwork skills, group projects can quickly break down, resulting in dissatisfaction as well as poor performance.”

Are these extra scenarios really necessary for group projects? The overall goals for having a group project can become lost because of these unnecessary hurdles within the personalities of the group members. The content that students are supposed to learn from a group project can usually be taught in a class setting without the need of a group project. If these group projects occur at the end of a semester, then it is crucial for every student to comprehend the content because there is usually an exam that follows.

By participating in group projects in college, students are expected to gain the necessary skills for working productively within a group. However, by taking the time to assimilate to the intricate personalities that usually makes up a group project students are essentially losing the true reason for having a group project in the first place.



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