It is 10 p.m. and you are still waiting to hear back from the group member you texted yesterday at 11 a.m. You break out in a cold sweat in the library, and you realize that you are also shaking from the two caramel macchiatos that you have already consumed. You start to angrily tell your friend about how you cannot believe that this group project is worth 20% of your grade.
In the midst of finals week, some of the most dreaded final projects are those requiring group work. While group projects are necessary for the development of a student’s skills, they are not a fair assessment of the student themselves, and therefore should not be used for finals.
Individual projects, tests, or essays do much better to accurately show how well a student can apply what they have learned over the semester. The caveat with group projects is that one or two people usually do a majority of the work.
These assignments are usually long-term, and there are the infamous procrastinating group members who do not do their share of the project until the night it is due.
Group finals would not be such a problem if they were not a large part of the overall grade. However, it feels like a helpless situation when as much as 20% or more of your grade can rest on the shoulders of your peers.
Especially when the student does not get to pick their partners, some aspects of the grade (like the work ethic of your group) are simply out of their control. That does not seem like a proper reflection of what the individual has learned throughout the semester.
Dealing with a freeloading peer is probably the most annoying part of a group project. They are the one who does not participate in group discussions or research and has to be consistently reminded all the way up to the due date to do their part.
Furthermore, despite how much trouble they caused for the group, everyone has to face the injustice of them getting the same grade for everyone else’s work. Worst case scenario, a student refusing to chip in can cause everyone else’s grade to decrease, as well.
Although, I unfortunately do see why group projects are necessary. As annoying as they are, and although the frustration is trying, group projects can help improve leadership and social skills by teaching us to work with people we may not usually work with.
However, if you are stuck in a group project for a final, make sure that everyone in your group is going to work at their best early on. Finals are already stressful enough. You do not want to be stressing about groupmates who are not responding to you.
State your group communication intentions clearly. Be sure to prioritize the group’s grade and to make sure everyone is putting in the proper amount of effort. If there is a problem, you can try talking to your professor to see what can be done.
If you have the option to choose your group, choose wisely. If your friend is in the class, but you know their work ethic is not good, it is probably not in your best interest to include them. One of the skills developed in a group project is your ability to find people who you work well with. This is something you will likely have to do in the workplace after graduation.
Finally, good luck! At least we know that we have company in numbers. The conflicts of group projects are abundant and shared by students across all majors.