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The Blue & Gray Press | November 19, 2017

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Group projects can teach great skills, while also being problematic

Group projects can teach great skills, while also being problematic

By KYLEIGH COUTCHER

Staff Writer

At UMW, group projects are incorporated in almost every class, and at some point or another every student has had to participate in a group project. We are told that class group projects will help us in the future and prepare us for the “real world.” Working with people in certain scenarios is a good idea in some cases because it helps us discover fresh ideas and you can get many points of view on a certain topic or subject matter. At the same time, while in school, working in group projects can be very stressful and can bring down your grade.

In the “real world,” outside of school, getting people together at the same time and working with everyone’s schedule does not seem as difficult. While in certain classes group projects are great, some professors should not force collaborative projects in classes where they are not helpful. For example, I think group projects in a foreign language course are a great idea because everyone is at a different level of understanding and it is helpful to learn from your peers. It can also make learning more interactive and fun to practice speaking in a second language. Group projects are necessary and everyone should have that experience in college but the weight of the grade that is usually placed on them is too high.

“I think class group projects help because you are also getting the insight and ideas from your classmates not just your own, for whatever the assignment,” said sophomore, Rebecca Brehmer.

There are several issues that come about when participating in a group project. Questions of who your group-mates will be, how many people with be contributing, how is the project weighted, everyone’s availability, who will be the leader and so forth, these questions need to be answered within in the first couple days of being assigned the project, because there is only so much time given.

These kinds of projects are more fair when groups are randomly assigned. If a professor is going to assign a group project, they should decide who will be in what group as opposed to letting the students group themselves.

There are usually a few cliques in the room, who are either on a team together or have known each other since freshman year, but not all people have the luxury of knowing so many people in the class. And then of course there are always a few students who are not in class that day and are left out. Everyone wants to succeed and do well, so for everyone to have a fair or equal chance, groups should be randomized.

The biggest reason group projects are problematic is because not everyone is willing to put in the same amount of effort.

“Class group projects help with understanding the subject,” said junior Carolyn Rouse. “You’re able to bounce ideas off classmates and help each other with topics you may not understand… They work really well as long as everyone is putting effort in.”

More times than not, I have been in a group where certain people just want to ride along for the grade and do the bare minimum or nothing at all. This is upsetting because one, you are being graded as a group, and two, if other people don’t pull their share of the weight than you have more work on your shoulders.

“If group members do not work well together, it can cause stress [and] the workload may not be divided evenly, goals cannot be accomplished in a timely manner and it can discourage people from working with teams,” said alum, Alex Monaco.

I try to go into each group project with a positive outlook and accept that this group may work out. I have just not had many great experiences and I know I am not alone in this.

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