Tag Archives: group

Why Class Group-Work Does Not Teach Teamwork

25 May

Here’s another old draft I stumbled upon.  I do dislike teamwork when my grade is on the line.  I want to earn my OWN grades.  It shouldn’t be influenced by the work ethic of other people.  And it should be left to chance–what group members you get.  Also, I shouldn’t have to do every aspect of a big project in order to get a good grade out of it.

I HATE group work!

jumbo turtleNo one ever asks me to join their group, so it’s always awkward to get into a group in the first place.  I only want to do my own work (which is of outstanding caliber *truth, not bragging*) not be humiliated when no one wants to include me in their team.  Then, IF I do find a group everyone in the group knows each other and wanted to work together except me, so that’s more awkwardness.

And, in class–who do you sit by?  Friends.  People sit by friends, or they end up getting to be friends because of location.  People that sit in front are older students or sight-impaired, or very studious, generally.  While those in the back are too cool for school and want to text and chatter during class.  So you get partnered up with like people anyway.

An example of a group project gone awry–not my fault:

MY group sat in a row.  The fifth girl in the row, was the writer, I was the first on the opposite side of the row.  And the Green Bluff 2 025three gals in between talked about their “juicing” diets.  The writer organized our paper by name (douchi) instead of just writing a half page and putting everyone’s name at the top.  Though I had written an answer for EVERY theory (when we were only supposed to address one) this writer wrote a literal sentience for my name.  She wrote a paragraph under each of her friends though they had contributed ZERO because of the juice diet discussion.  And under her own name, the writer wrote a half page.  Bitch.  So it was made to look like I was a slacker.

My worst group project ever–also not my fault:

My Farm Plan

pretty in pinkMy senior year at Mizzou everyone had to take a capstone course in their major.  Hog Production is what fit into my schedule–though I didn’t intend on working with hogs and had no strong interest in them.  Anyway, our semester project was to write this big, involved farm plan and present it.  All in a group of 4.  The big thing was that the plan had to utilize everything we learned in class AND be consistent   Meaning all 4 group members had to have the same set-up.  Before Thanksgiving break I e-mailed my group and told them I would be happy to edit their portions, as well as type them all in one document–as a pre-vet student I needed an A in every class, and this project was the biggest component of our grade.

None of my three group members had STARTED the semester-long farm plan at that point in late November!!!!  By turkeyNovember–with only a month left of class.  Hadn’t.  Even.  Started.  Now, what am I supposed to do about that?  So I wrote the prof. explaining the situation and asking what I should do.  He just assured me in all his years of doing this project the groups have always come together by the end.

So no help.

And sure enough, come grading time my (assigned) group members with senioritis and plans to work for their family farms in a week or so (ie not pre-vet and not concerned about one course grade) had not completed the farm plans, and the ones that had slapped it together.  So even though MY portion was worthy of an A (the prof even said that), as a group we got a C-!  When I complained to the prof I should not be graded based on other people’s caliber of work–he just said he had always graded them as groups for the 20-some years he had been doing this, and he had never before seen a group that didn’t come together as mine hadn’t. . .  I got a C in that class 😦  NOT fair.

So that’s a huge reason why I’m anti-group work.  And here’s a bad dream I had related to group work:

To dream that you are in a bus accident suggests that it is time for you to move away from a group setting and venture out on your own. You need to be more independent.

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When Doing a Group Project. . .

29 Jun

Don’t get me started on the legitimacy of group projects.  I really think it is an instructor’s lazy way out of planning, grading, and time-management.  But part of the problem of groups are social behaviors of the members.  I guess as a general rule, people just don’t know how to work in teams well.  As a lifelong member of sports, leadership, student council, and clubs, I’ll impart some key points I have taken from successful interactions–and those that weren’t so much:

-Firstly, you are all in the group and that’s it.  So instead of kicking mud, just buck up and get it done.  You’ll have to accept Laurel's pics 476the fact that you’re going to work together as a team.

-Instead of looking for differences in team members, search for commonalities.  Believe me, this will help everyone find a middle ground and work nicer.

-Find something for everyone to do.  Make sure everyone has an equal part in the project.  Saying *insert task* here is already taken care of is closed-off.  Group projects are open and even things that are perceived to be done can always be improved upon.

Follow the golden rule–do unto others as you want done to you.  Don’t say or do things you wouldn’t want said & done to you.

Laurel's pics 055-Don’t shut ideas down.  Never say something negative when a new idea is brought to the table.  It takes courage to speak up about an idea, AND it might work.  Thinking of reasons why things won’t work is annoying and change-averse.  Especially if it’s the first thing out of your mouth.  Even if you think the idea 100% will never work, entertain it for a second.  How could it work?  Can it be modified?  Even if not, acknowledge the idea, take time to mull it over, and attempt to change it so it would work.  Discuss the pros & cons.  Shooting down ideas makes people stop saying them.

-Meet in the middle.  Compromise is the name of the game.  Give and take is central to group work.  If you get your way one time, offer for the other person/people to also get their way.  Keep it equal, and everyone’s Laurel's pics 157stamp will be on the project.  I think this is why some people slack off in group work–they don’t feel as if they CAN make a contribution, by having any control over the outcome of the project.  So they give over full control (all the work) to the dominant person.  Make sure everyone gets something they want–or you may just end up with ALL the work.

-Don’t criticize the other person’s efforts.  Even if you think they suck.  And if you must–b/c it’s explicitly against the project’s guidelines or some other extreme situation–temper it with 2 pieces of praise.  People remember negative things far better.  So if you gently put down a person’s idea (only b/c it is El Nino, L cubed, L-Tronexplicitly against the rules!) really, tell them 2 ideas of theirs you like.  Sounds cheesy–but really do this.

-Never use the words, “bad,” “insensitive,” or marginalizing a population” in association with your partner’s ideas or work.  I mean, c’mon this should be basic stuff–but using negative language to describe other group members or their ideas is off-putting, rude, and counter-productive.  Refer to golden rule above.

-Don’t ignore problems.  They need to be dealt with early on.  Silence makes problems grow, not disappear.  And it is disrespectful to other member’s feelings to deny problems or concerns.  When there is a disagreement, do not undervalue the other person’s feeling or opinions by saying there is no problem, and adding statements like, “relax” 8th grade VBor “chill out.”  You are pretty much saying, “You are oversensitive and stupid and I’m not listening to your high maintenance complaints.”  Not the greatest attitude from teamwork or productivity.

-Communications have broken down, nobody is happy, and some rules above were broken.  You have to fix it.  Firstly, take responsibility for YOUR bad behaviors.  Whatever they were.  Then, listen.  Really listen to the group’s concerns.  And all of you work together to FIX it.  Don’t rehash who’s fault it was or what went wrong–move to correct things.  Address problems by actively brainstorming solutions.  This is critical–don’t just complain or point out problems, say how to make errors better.  Otherwise you will be up against a defensive, upset Laurel's pics 555reaction.  The group will probably break down all-together at this point, and then what?  One person will end up doing all the work, everyone will be disgruntled, and nobody likes that story.

-OK, so you don’t like an idea or portion of the other person’s work.  Instead of bad-mouthing it, vetoing it, or deleting it, why not just modify it?  ADD to it to make it better.  Just remember to keep the original idea.  This is what can make a group project great.  This is multiple people linking brains to make things better then just one person alone.  It’s what will make everyone invested in the project too–and keep communication open, and respectful, and Sierra Exif JPEGpositive.

-I should have said this sooner, but start right away.  It is much easier to edit then conceptualize.  And one procrastinator holds up the entire group, because steps cannot be skipped without making crucial decisions as an individual.  Make all the decisions FIRST, and then if there is a lazy, slacker, procrastinator, at least you have the outline or bones of the project ready to turn in.  Let me repeat–Don’t save the project until the last minute, b/c this makes your partner have to procrastinate as well (Douche).

-Lastly, make sure to give everyone props.  Everyone should walk away feeling appreciated and valued and proud of their own and everyone else’s contribution to a project well done.

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Laurel's pics 233And when you’re watching a presentation:

-Don’t embarrass the presenters.  The experience is already nerve-wracking, don’t be a dick.  Remember–YOU have to take a turn up front too.

-Don’t ask intense questions they can’t answer.  Leave that to the instructor.

-It would actually be cool if you asked an easy or fun question the presenter might be confident about or ready to discuss.  Laurel's pics 833It’s OK to make other people look good–they just might return the favor.

-Don’t dispute what they say.  There’s no point to this–have you ever been presenting and someone’s argument made you change your facts?  No of course not, it’s too late.  This only makes people feel dumb and embarrassed.  It’s counter-productive and ass-holish to call peers on erroneous facts when the research is complete, papers are written, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

-Don’t criticism their research, visuals, or presenting style while they are putting themselves out there in front of the class.  facial muscles 1People are nervous.  They are humans.  Refer to golden rule.

-Especially don’t do these things if you’re the instructor.

-If you think someone was ill-prepared or did a shitty job, take off points.  No need for public humiliation   Shame on you, bitchy prof.

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Anyway, as a person who hates, hates, hates putting my grades in someone else’s hands, I hope some of these tips help every person in a team and make the project even better!  Because let’s face it, those mo-fo professors aren’t soon going to grade twice the work, take twice the time, and assign individual projects. . .