Thursday, October 30, 2008

I hate group projects

Do group projects do anything other than reward slackers and impose more work on students who are actually willing to do their work? There is an inverse relationship between how "group" a project is and how much of a "project" it ends up being for the ones doing it.

17 comments:

Tim Ricchuiti said...

don't you know, josh, it builds community! :)

Josh McManaway said...

Yes, there's quite a lot of community going on right now - me, the books, and the empty table are having a grand time.

I asked my professor if I could do this alone, knowing how often "group" projects devolve and I was told that it was a good way to get students to work together. So, here I am, prophecies fulfilled, sitting by myself.

I suppose there is something ironic in that I asked if I could do it by myself...

James Gregory said...

I feel your pain.

As a teacher, I avoided such projects because I knew what happens; alas, I was forced to incorporate group projects into the curriculum (I was teaching pre-algebra).

If I ever get to teach Greek or Hebrew, I will require a group translation project, but the groups will be of 3 or 4 people, and it will be in class only, which, I think, helps cut out the non-participators outside of class, though it doesn't solve it entirely.

Josh McManaway said...

Hey James,

I certainly don't mind in class group projects. My Greek class only has 4 people in it and we're doing one massive translation of Philostratus' Life of Apollonius. Although we do translations on our own, we all come together in class to discuss and share.

Thanks for stopping by.

David Brim said...

Group projects can definitely suck. One thing that is very helpful in managing them is http://www.grouptable.com

With GroupTable you don't have to worry about time conflicts with your group anymore and you can easily identify who are the slackers and who is contributing.

Good luck during the rest of the semester

Jim said...

group projects are lazy teachers' ways of doing less work themselves.

James Gregory said...

Jim:

Let's not make any hasty generalizations here. Groups projects have great potential. When it is done right, group projects are a collaborative effort that require personal skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. It also requires dialogue and debate. So, when it is done right, it sharpens the students in a multi-faceted way and can be quite valuable as a teaching strategy. Let's also not forget that most schools require it as part of the curriculum, so teachers may not be able to escape incorporating group projects into their lesson plans.

James Gregory said...

Josh:

Which sections of the life of Apollonius are you and your class translating?

Josh McManaway said...

Thus far we've just worked through Book I - we just finished up the part that discusses Apollonius returning home after his father's death and the dividing up of his wealth.

I'm enjoying it a lot. This is the first class where we're actually using the language and I'm noticing that issues I had previously with the language are disappearing. Parsing is more of a passive thing rather than having to sit and stare and run through paradigms in my head. For whatever reason, prepositions were the bane of my Greek existence - but after having seen them day in and out, they're becoming much more familiar.

Have you read some of the Life of Apollonius?

James Gregory said...

I haven't, but I know it is comprised of several books and was curious to know if your class was in the process of translating the whole thing or just portions of it.

Anonymous said...

group projects are meaningless in school, in the field group projects will generally be for a long term, in the form of a research team working together towards a specific goal, positions will be allocated by specilization, thus issues of who will do what are for the most part irrelivant. In short school progects completly fail to represent the true projects that will appear in later life

Anonymous said...

I dislike "group" projects because I don't trust other group members to do the work "we" decide that they do. I put we in quotes because usually I or someone else tells group members what to do. I also usually get partnered with someone I become easily annoyed with, dislike or is difficult to work with. Right now I'm in a group project in which I am having a conflict with my partner that has nothing to do with the project. That is another downside to groups. For this project we also have to write a group paper which is anal because we have different writing styles and methods.

Anonymous said...

"Do group projects do anything other than reward slackers and impose more work on students who are actually willing to do their work?"

What a great quote. I'm in an online MBA and have been assigned a group project, and I'm the only one on my team that has done any work for the last 4 weeks. Complaining to the teacher never helps either.

Anonymous said...

"Do group projects do anything other than reward slackers and impose more work on students who are actually willing to do their work?"

I completely agree. I have been stuck with the same slacker group for two 30 minute presentations in a row (due to a teacher who is too lazy to mix up the groups). The entire group fails to communicate, or show any sign of commitment at all. Usually, I would be able to take charge (like I did in the last presentation) and pull together something worth a decent grade. Of course, in doing so I would end up with all the work. However, for the second presentation, with which I had taken precautions and assigned jobs to each of my group-mates, my entire team failed to pull through again. I can't have a repeat preformance of last presentation for one simple reason, I am battling deep depression. And now, my grade is hindering on this project which I am forced to execute alone, once again.

A side note, my teacher never actually explained this project and has an uncanny ability to not answer any question I pose to him.

Anonymous said...

I hate group projects because I am rather shy. When I'm working with others, I don't talk to them or interact with anyone. I'm doing a group project now and I have done nothing because of this antii-social personality disorder. I feel as if I'm a lazy no good no life. Please, help me...

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

I don't know if anyone has coined this phrase yet but when it comes to group projects I made up the quote "Group projects are supposed to be ALL do SOME but inevaitable ends up that SOME do ALL."

It sucks. My favorite is the chick in my group right now. We're freaking adults in our 30's and yet instead of doing her part she blames me and the other group member for her failure to find the discussion board, her failure to contribute anything at all except plagiarized text and her failure to accept responsibility when I busted her ass for it.....the best is how she labeled me as an "ignorant person" because I pointed out her plagiarism and told her it wasn't acceptable for a group project because we'd all get a failing grade. Unbelievable the audacity of some people.

Anonymous said...

I hate them too. They always hurt my grade because I'm generally put with slackers. I play things fair and square. I did my job which was write the essay and find quotes from the book and we got 7/7 points on those. I also had to make the title of the poster and help write some information on it. You know what the others did? They just sat there singing stupid commercial songs and they only cut and glued pictures. When I told them to work, they wouldn't. When they did work they had ideas for the project that had nothing to do with the actual project. Now I got a B+ in the class instead of the A- I deserve.