It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning, middle or end of the semester and it doesn’t matter if you’re in your freshman or senior year at Fresno State – at some point in your academic career, you will have to do a group project, and it will be awful.
Even under the most perfect circumstances, group projects are stressful and seemingly unnecessary.
Most times group projects are portrayed as helping students learn how to interact with each other like they’ll have to eventually interact with co-workers in the “real world,” but this theory doesn’t hold water for multiple reasons.
For one, if you’re doing a project in the professional world with co-workers, I doubt it will have to be a video displaying what you’ve learned from your job over the course of the year. I also doubt you’ll have to awkwardly stand with your group members in front of a PowerPoint and take turns reading from slides until it’s the next person’s turn.
While it goes without saying that a huge part of the “real world” is taking part in collaborative efforts both in and outside of work, I doubt that anyone in the professional world is grateful for the dozens of group projects they had to do in high school and college.
There are three key reasons why group projects should cease to exist as we know them:
1. Someone will always end up doing more work than everyone else.
There is no way around this. The reality of group projects is that the work is almost never equally divided among classmates. There seems to be no real solution for why one person always gets burdened with more work than other group members, and so the cycle continues year after year and project after project.
A large part of this problem stems from the types of personalities that inhabit college classrooms: students who either rise to the occasion or fade into the background and become more passive when it comes to weightier decisions that the group makes.
Students should not be penalized for being more introverted and independent when it comes to their learning, just like more outgoing or forward students should not be punished by taking work upon themselves over the course of a group project.
Once in awhile, a second member of the group may also rise to the occasion and lighten the load of the previously overwhelmed student. But even then, other students in group projects that care less about their grades or the class, in general, may get to float by without contributing to the project like everyone else in the group.
2. Communicating while doing group work instantly becomes 10 times harder.
Every millennial has participated in group texting, whether they love being in constant communication with their friends or hate the constant notifications that they couldn’t care less about.
Regardless of whether you hate it or love it, group texting is part of everyone’s life and helps maintain both work and personal relationships.
This is, however, until you get assigned to a group project and have to exchange phone numbers with each other.
First off, there’s a Murphy’s Law aspect to communicating with group members – anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Did you love group texting as a means to socialize prior to this group project? If so, prepare to say goodbye to that and immediately hate the dozens of clarification texts you’ll get or at least two or three texts a night asking if you are all going to meet up soon.
3. No one in college has the same schedule.
If college is preparing us for the “real world,” how can anyone be expected to go to school, work and maintain relationships with friends or family on top of tending to an arbitrary group project?
There are few things in college that are more excruciatingly painful than trying to organize a time to meet up to work on a group project.
For one, because we are adults in college, we are all maintaining and balancing busy schedules that make it extremely hard to meet in the same place at the same time and put in hours-worth of work.
The truth of the matter is that, when trying to organize a meet-up for a group project, three things will happen: one person will show up at the wrong place, another will be late and someone will send a text at the last minute saying they are not able to make it. Once again, Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head and will make sure that even if most of your group shows up, very little will be done.
The reality of the situation is that group projects are better left undone and reassigned as independently created and graded projects that are the responsibility of one student.