Groups go away
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
When I am going to school, and spending thousands of dollars to do so, I do not want the decision of whether I pass or not being put in the hands of someone who does not have the same motivation as me.
Here is an experience that I think many can relate to: it’s the first day of classes, you get the syllabus, scan through it to see what you have to do, maybe plan out a schedule of how you will tackle it only to see the most dreaded of sights—this class contains a group project. Now your entire schedule will be at the whims of whatever person, or people, you get paired up with. Why is this though? Why do we still have to do group presentations when they can be the most annoying part of a class, and in most cases not even worth a lot of marks?
I have many stories of bad group assignments. I have had to miss time at work, fall behind on school work, and badger people in my groups to communicate with me only to find out on presentation day (because it is always a presentation) that they have done nothing, done the bare minimum, or have done work that covers stuff I have already done and said I would do, but they didn’t know that because they weren’t checking their emails.
One such story happened a few years ago. I was just coming back to school and I was a bit shy. Because of this, I ended up getting paired with the slacker students of the class. These people are what I called the “Bank of Mommy and Daddy” kids; the students who didn’t have any idea what they wanted to do and were likely subsidized by their parents through school, possibly over getting a job. After trying to get their contact information during the initial group meet up, to which one of the girls responded “You really want that contact information!” I decided to give them my contact information and just have them get back to me later since they did not want to give it up. Days went by and they didn’t send me anything, they wouldn’t talk to me in the class, and then finally the day before the presentation day they contacted me asking if I wanted to meet up two hours before the class to go over the presentation, which they all did without me. During the presentation they kept throwing to me to talk about something, only for me not to know what was going on because the work I did didn’t line up with theirs. Luckily before class I went to the teacher and threw them under the bus for not including me and got the presentation excluded from my grade, but it was quite frustrating and an example of how bad presentation groups can be.
I have other stories similar to this. Whether it’s a person not doing their portion of the presentation, a group forcing you to sign up for different apps you don’t want to sign up for to keep in touch, or someone not getting back to you for so long you start to think they have dropped out of the class—I think I have heard it all. I am just lucky that I have never been in a situation where the group presentation has been for a substantial amount of the overall mark.
I know if you ask the school, they will probably say that group projects are to teach you how to work in a collaborative setting, or that they build good team-work skills, and maybe they do in an ideal world, but that just doesn’t happen. When I am going to school and spending thousands of dollars to do so I do not want the decision of whether I pass or not being put in the hands of someone who does not have the same motivation as me.
Sometimes (though not a lot of the time) the difficulties of a group presentation isn’t even anyone’s fault. People have jobs, other classes, and responsibilities. We don’t have time to always get together with someone to do an assignment. If someone is working two jobs, has children, and is working hard to tend to them while also going to school, I wouldn’t want them to have to devote time to work around my schedule and multiple other people just to make a group presentation work.
It’s time we get rid of the group project as an assignment. They are not fair to everyone, hard to work around, and offer very little in terms of educational value. Let’s leave group activities for the important stuff: pub crawls, all night parties, and sex (after the pandemic of course).