Are group projects really that bad?

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Grace O'Neil, Staff writer

Group projects. I’m sure that explaining the premise of group projects is pointless since most everyone has done a group project at least once in their life.Most times the project is long-term and involves a lot of work, so it makes sense to assign it to a group of people, the point being to divide and conquer. On the surface, that makes a lot of sense. Why then does there tend to be a negative stigma to such projects? 

Usually it seems that the number one problem is an uneven balance to the workload. Sometimes one person does all of the work because no one else will. Sometimes one person does all of the work because they are unwilling to share the work load. Oftentimes there is a solid group effort except for that one person—you know, that person who does absolutely nothing but gets full credit anyway. There are many other combinations that all lead to stress and worry until the dreaded project is finally over.

Despite this, we continue to do, and sometimes even ask for, group projects. To figure out why, a survey was sent out across the student body to see how people felt about group projects. According to the survey, the majority has a positive response toward group projects, with 37.7 % saying they enjoy such assignments, and 58% saying sometimes .

However, according to junior Bella Smith, this is due to the picking of their own partners, and 88.4 % of those who took the survey agree. When you choose your own partner, you know what their work ethic is like, and you’ll know that they will be willing and able to help complete the project effectively and efficiently. 

Teachers also have their own thoughts on group projects. When asked, most said that although they can be a pain, they are necessary for the learning process. Group projects give students the skills to work with others that are required for most every job out there. They teach responsibility, communication, and work ethic. Even when a group is working dysfunctionally, important lessons are being learned.  It is very likely that all of these same issues involving group dynamics will happen on the job one day, and students need to persevere and get the job done regardless. 

As Mr. Danforth explains,” Industry and business is gravitating more and more towards group assignments – using what is called ‘multi-functional teams.’ This is where you may have someone from research, from marketing, from purchasing, from distribution – all on the same team. If they are pros in their fields, and come to the table to work with the team – then it can be a great experience. Much synergy can come from these individuals, with different expertise and experience all contributing to the same cause or objective. So it can be both a fun and rewarding experience, or it can be a major pain, depending on the team members. Regardless, ‘teams’ seems to be the way of the future, so gaining experience with working in a team format is sure to help you in your future career.”

In the end, even if you find group projects to be a horrible waste of time, or when you think you could do better on your own, try to remember that the odds are they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, if ever. So, always strive to do your part and do it to the best of your ability. Who knows, maybe you might find they aren’t so bad after all.