The real lesson is in the group, not the project

Every time students reach the end of the semester they are asked to complete teacher evaluations, and every time there is a question on the evaluation that asks if students were given group work.

However, this question always sparks so many other questions. For example, why is it so important for professors to assign group projects and do students even like them let alone learn from them?

For English major Alexis Brown, group projects have done nothing but make it that much harder to keep her grades up.

“A couple of group members didn’t do their parts in spite of being reminded of deadlines multiple times, so we had to leave them out of the submission,” Brown said.

When it comes to group projects all members share responsibility. The pro to a system like that is that no one person has to do all of the work. The con, however, is that when other group members do not contribute, the entirety of the work falls solely on one or two people.

Art education major Jackson Carroll has had to deal with situations like this multiple times.

“Group projects are the worst because there is always that one person who disappears and I end up having to do all of the work just so that my grade won’t be affected by their lack of effort,” Carroll said.

Group projects are a lot of work and sometimes meeting only during school hours is not enough.

“We weren’t allotted much class time to work on it, and conflicting schedules meant we had to collaborate mostly, if not entirely, online which made communication difficult,” Brown said

Since many college students also work to help pay for tuition it can be difficult for people to meet up at a specific time.

Psychology Professor Beatriz Alvarado is no stranger to assigning group projects and said it teaches many things that all students should learn before graduating.

“Group projects, whether large or small, give students the opportunity to build different skills than traditional classwork. Learning to work with others is one of the most valuable skills you will need to be successful after college,” Alvarado said.

For students who have to over-compensate for a member, group projects can be frustrating, but from a professor’s perspective even those moments are important life lessons.

“Identifying a group member who is ‘loafing’ (not doing their job) allows the group the opportunity to address a very real problem that will pop up in the workplace. Are you going to carry that member, try to motivate them, or will you ‘fire’ them and reallocate resources?” Alvarado said. “For me, it is the experience of working together and learning from each other in a new way that is the ultimate goal.”

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