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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

Why group projects shouldn’t exist

We all remember sitting at our tiny desks in elementary school doing an assignment that required you to cut, your seatmate to color and the boy across from you to glue.

 We worked together, using teamwork to make a paper mache masterpiece, one that would have been much better than if we had done it ourselves.

But this isn’t second grade.

At the moment, I have four group projects simultaneously occurring in four different classes. And what’s the common theme?

Universal laziness.

What exactly have I learned in these group projects?

Not the lesson of teamwork, which would require everyone pulling their own weight and probably hasn’t happened since I played soccer in fourth grade. Then, we all didn’t understand that we had any other choice than running as hard as the other kids.

This is not communication, which requires everyone in the group to actually respond.
Instead, I have learned that teachers would rather grade an assignment for every five of us rather than for every student.

I have learned that this is true even if I am learning only my part of the project.

This is one fifth of the information I would have learned doing an independent project, yet I am still paying for same amount of my education.

I have learned that Google Docs are extremely helpful, but only when group members actually check their email.

I have learned that students can get an A by doing no work at all while my other class grades suffer because I’m spending time doing the work of four people.

I once enrolled in a class in which the professor told us on the first day that 80 percent of our grade would be a group project.

I promptly dropped the class.

Even in the best of situations, when every group member actually cares about his or her grade, it is almost an impossible feat to find a time when four or more college students are simultaneously free.

We have lives. We go to classes, work, have extracurricular activities.

These don’t magically match up when a professor announces, “We’re going to break you up into groups.”

And yes, I’ve heard the argument from professors, “The lessons you learn in group projects are lessons you will use every day in the workplace.”

Yeah, okay. Here’s a fact for you: groups don’t get promoted in the workplace, but individuals do. Individuals who actually do their work while working with the lazy ones who slide by.

In the workplace, I’m getting paid to do the work. At college, I’m paying a professor to teach me.

What to do? Boycott all group projects and get a zero? Give horrible evaluations to your group members?

Or sit back and do the work, because you know no one else is going to?

It’s your choice, and I know college students will continue to complain about this.

Lazy students will continue to let others step up and do the grunt work, because group projects will never end.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep complaining about it.

­— crshelle@indiana.edu

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