I’ve never been very fond of group projects.
It might just be that I like the idea of being responsible for my own work and having control when everything gets done. I know I’m not the only one that isn’t particularly fond of group projects, as many of my friends don’t seem to like them, either.
It’s not the actual concept of group projects that students don’t like. Group projects become an issue when things start to not work out. Whether that be an issue of not finding an appropriate time to meet and work on the project, or not properly distributed an equal weight of work to each group member.
Research shows that group projects have many benefits for students. A group setting encourages students to tackle more complex problems than they could on their own, delegate roles and responsibilities, share diverse perspectives and pool their knowledge and skills. Other educational resources add that challenges like differing attitudes toward class assignments and an inability to make effective decisions to divide up work to avoid any conflict. These challenges and more can hinder students’ overall experience and performance.
I think that some of these issues have been alleviated thanks to the advancement of technology in the modern era. Google Docs and Facebook Messenger are essentials for me when it comes to setting up a group project on the right track.
This semester, I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with the groups I’ve participated in because they have each had a drive to put in their amount of work and energy. Luckily the issues I’ve found throughout the years of completing group projects haven’t been made apparent in any assignments I’ve encountered this semester.
An important factor improving my group project experience is the increased number of upper level classes this semester I’m enrolled in, which means everyone that has made it this far is probably capable of navigating a group project effectively. At this point everyone is getting close to graduating, so they are much more motivated to finish strong. Not to mention that the group projects involve topics that are related to their major much more closely and therefore are much more likely topics that interest them.
Leah Saiz, majoring in English and minoring in Spanish, has been in several classes that require participating in group projects as well, along with having had her fair share of experiences with group projects before.
She recalled that one of her favorite group projects was for her Introduction to American Education class where her group was tasked with looking at different aspects of education that they agreed or disagreed with.
“It was a good one because I was working with friends who shared my interest in not only getting a good grade, but what we were presenting on,” Saiz said. “Interest in your topic changes your view on the project and makes you want to do it.”
Group projects are a great of way to learn team building, organizational and communication skills, however, the individuals within the group can create or destroy the experience. Lack of motivation or lack of willingness to pick up and volunteer to do the work required for the project can be detrimental to the success of any group project.
Most people have been in a group project at least once. The experience can be a positive or a negative one but in the end a student can only control his or her contributions to the group.