College is full of challenges meant to test and prepare students for the real world. Some tasks can be intense or overwhelming due to the sheer volume of content that’s due for a class. Other assignments are full of tedious research or repetitive memorization. However, no project is the bane of a student’s existence quite like the group project.
The group project is vile and is more suited for high school students. It’s sole educational purpose is to force students to be social with each other and develop team-building and oral presentation skills.
The furthest that group projects should have ever gone in college is general education classes where students are still deciding what to major in. This is sadly not the case; the group projects did not stop there. Upper-division courses have succumbed to the awful, unending group-project machine.
When in upper division, it can be assumed that all students know what they’re doing and know what they want to be when they grow up.
The usefulness, if any, of group projects has gone out the window and only serves to haunt students who are desperately looking to graduate.
In almost every major, the real world doesn’t mean group work. So what does this tell us? It tells us that the intent of group projects was never to help students learn team-building skills, but rather it was an easy direction for instructors to take their classes so they can grade six projects instead of 30.
It makes sense, really. I can’t imagine it’s easy being a teacher, so it’s understandable that instructors do whatever they can to lessen the load on themselves.
Meanwhile, instructors are forcing students who don’t work well together and who aren’t oriented to each other to struggle for an extended period of time while learning little to nothing in the process.
Students learn much less in group projects than in any other project type. Most groups of students divvy up work so that each student only learns one-sixth of the overall material in the project.
Some instructors might even have the audacity to say that the group assignment will be “fun,” but no one is fooled.
Instructors try to keep positive about the group project that’s the crux of their classes, but when they bring it up on the first day, it can mean the difference between a student staying in or dropping a class.
While instructors pretend students will learn every aspect in the large project, the lives of college students are already so hectic that they can’t possibly take in every aspect of a project so large. So, it makes practical sense to split up the work and never learn anything about what your group partners are doing.
On top of the nightmare that is the group project, what often happens is that some members of groups fail to contribute in any meaningful way.
Even though instructors often grade on the individual effort, it still adds undue stress onto an already-stressed college student that he or she doesn’t need.
When a student flakes out, which always happens, the student who is forced to bend over backward to carry the group to a passing grade is usually the one who was going to be the most successful in the first place. Now, those students have the burden of doing added work so they don’t have to risk other students falling through, jeopardizing their crucial grade.
It’s much easier for instructors to gauge how much a student contributed, but the group is still also graded on the final product.
So now students who already have a lot on their plate get to go home and enjoy throwing up over the stress. Thanks instructors!
The fact that instructors bother to grade students individually proves that they know how group projects really work, but don’t care.
Perhaps it’s because the terrible assignments were forced on them in college, and they’ve failed to break the cycle that prevents incredible amounts of stress and any meaningful learning.