@head: Invasion of the group project
@by: Rose Richard
@deck: Res Ipsa Loquitur
@email: [email protected]
@head: The one thing I hate more than school right now, is forced group projects. I dislike them with every fiber in my being. There is nothing more inane at a commuter school than taking four or five people and making them try to do a project outside of school time and present it to a classroom full of people who probably couldn’t care less.
I will accede that there are disciplines and times in which a group project is necessary. Science classes are one. Business classes are another. I am told that now, everything in the business world centers around the group project. Thank god I am going to law school, where it’s every person for herself.
My biggest fear when I am put in a group project is the concern that no one will want to work. This fear is valid, because I don’t want to work either. Sometimes, I’ve had groups that have included bewildered international students, who may or may not have enough English language skills to participate.
Group projects are vastly unfair to those who don’t speak much English. They are doomed from the very beginning, unable to contribute to the spoken or the written part of the presentation. Once, during a particularly horrible university studies course I took a million years ago, one of my group members almost quit the class because he felt bad because he couldn’t help with the project. I wasn’t going to tattle on him for not participating. It’s not his fault he can’t help out. In the end, he offered to pay for our visuals and report to be put together at Kinko’s. We got an A, and I’d like to think it was because he helped us in his way to make the project look good.
Even if I like the class and the material, I’ll still loathe the group project. In one of my classes I have been lucky to get a good group. The problem is that we all hate the project. None of us has a lot of extra time (or even lives close enough to campus) to meet on a very regular basis. We’ve had to meet at bizarre times and do a lot of the work individually, which sort of defeats the purpose of the group project anyway.
The other horrible aspect of the group project is other people’s group projects. For the aforementioned group project, the first group in the class had a really slick Power Point presentation with video. They even passed out a miniature newspaper, complete with the plastic wrapping!
But what is even worse is when the other group sucks. Do you know what I’m talking about? Small graphs mounted on poster board and a speaker that says “um” a lot while chewing gum? No good. No good at all. What is really ironic is that the horrible presentations last so much longer than those rare, cool ones.
This points to the inherent inequality of group projects. I don’t know anything about Power Point. I have a lot of friends who are business majors who seem to have to deal with it on a regular basis, but as a history major, I mainly deal with books and word processing. No graphs for me! I wouldn’t know how to make a miniature newspaper complete with plastic wrap either. Professors ought to match people with different (or even some) skills to make a more interesting array of presentations, if they are going to make us sit through all of them.
In short, I detest group projects and feel that the only improvement is to eliminate them altogether. As this is not a suggestion based in any sort of reality, I think there should be ways to streamline or amend group projects. There would be more sensitivity to students with only a rough command of English, mixing of students with various media capabilities and defined time limits, especially for really boring presentations and any presentation I have to make.