Group work hinders students more than it benefits them

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Photo Credit: Alexandra Vanderhider | Daily Texan Staff

Professors say group projects offer a unique opportunity to collaborate and be creative with other individuals. Students say that group projects are unfair because of randomly assigned partners, lack of communication and difficult time scheduling. Group projects serve as a useful form for collaborative work but in college it can be difficult. For these reasons, professors should no longer assign group projects to college students because it’s not the most effective way to achieve full knowledge over a subject.

Every student has a unique class schedule. This can be problematic when trying to organize a time to meet with all your group members. Arranging a time that works for everyone to work for a decent amount of time can be very unlikely. This isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault, it’s just a conflict that occurs naturally. 

“Whenever I work in a group project with people I don’t know, it’s really hard for me to trust them and find a good time when we can all meet together,” sociology freshman Emmerie Welmaker said. “You never know what the other group members can do or how much effort they will put into their work.”

Most college lecture classes have over a hundred students. It’s intimidating when you get assigned a project with a few other students that you’ve never met before. Forty-one percent of college students have been reported to have anxiety, which can cause students to struggle with group work. Anxiety can cause stress that affects students’ work on a project. This can also give the impression of being a slacker.

“Students vary in their intelligence and diligence, so in any group there is a chance that one or more members don’t fulfill their responsibilities in the assignment, bringing down the overall quality of the final product,” said ethnomusicology professor Stephen Slawek. “This can then lead to negative feelings being generated in the group, creating something less than a positive experience for the students.”

A study conducted at the Murdoch University of Law assigned a group project to 120 students. At the end, each student was sent a survey to leave their group mates feedback. When asked whether group work caused them to receive higher marks than they received on their own individual work, 75 percent of students said they disagreed or strongly disagreed. 

“Group projects in high school were fun because I got to work with my friends,”  Welmaker said. “But now in college, doing my own work is nice, because I’m responsible for my own grade.”

There are benefits to group projects such as developing new approaches to resolving differences between students, being able to hold others accountable and learning new thinking methods. But overall these benefits don’t outweigh the negative aspects of group projects, many of much can actually hinder learning.

“I think pros of group projects include learning effective communication and leadership skills. You also learn people skills in terms of having to work with people who either work differently than you do or who you disagree with,” advertising assistant professor Kate Pounders said. “But I actually tend to get feedback that students prefer independent projects over group projects when the project is outside of class.”

Assigning individual assignments instead of group projects is an easier way for students to learn and produce adequate material. Collaborating with others for help and ideas can and should be an available resource, but everyone should be responsible for their own work.

Pape is a journalism freshman from San Antonio.