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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

The group project dilemma

There’s not one person in this entire university who jumps for joy when a professor assigns students into groups for a project.

It’s an unnatural way to force students to work together to create a cohesive final product, which is never delegated equally among group members. For me, there’s juvenile, elementary connotations.

To make my argument, let me walk you through a typical group project.

The websites we use to do projects don’t always work. Professors love Canvas, the communication tool for classes.

They talk it up so much that I’m almost convinced it’s made of rainbows and butterflies.

And they always say the same thing. “I don’t know how it works, but you’ll love it!”

Um.

And the inevitable always happens. I log in and hundreds of students like me log in and find that they know no one in their group, and they don’t know what to do.

The professor then always delivers some monologue that instead of grading 100 papers, they can just divide the class into groups of four.

This is a problem for me. When a professor assigns a group project and says that it’s to help our team-building skills, it sort of feels like they’re covering the fact that they are simply reducing how many assignments they have to grade.

But aside from problems with the professors — which, let’s face it, we’ll all at some point have problems with our professors, we just need to learn to work with them for a grade — there’s always the point when we realize that our group mates may not be as reliable as we’d hoped.

Three out of the four groupmates go online to help, and they chat on Facebook about who should do what for the project. One student usually takes the lead in this and does about 99 percent of the work.

The student who did all the work shows up in class and tries desperately to find his other group mates. He fails miserably, realizing that he’s never been face to face with the people in his group.

When it comes time to present, it all just gets really awkward. The student stands up and mumbles some words, says the names of his group mates and sits down, remarkably all in under one minute.

It was supposed to be a five-minute presentation.

The rest of the class drones on, and people are more occupied with Tinder matches than learning about the other projects being presented.

I understand group projects. I understand their necessity, and I understand why they are utilized.

But when I feel like I’m learning more on my own than with my group, I have to question their use overall.

There are better ways to teach students.

Ways that don’t make me want to tear my hair out. We don’t need to eliminate group projects, but we need to take a look at when and where they should be used, and how they can be used appropriately.

We’d save a lot of time that way.

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