Group project’s got me grumbling

By Jesse Dolojan, Staff Writer

It’s the last day of fall break, and you have a PowerPoint to present with your group tomorrow at 8 a.m. You already did your part of the slideshow, but you notice that only one other person has contributed to the project. A part of you is panicked, because it’s 6 p.m. and your group is supposed to meet at 7 p.m. But the other part of you is used to it, as this is the group you were assigned to work with for the whole semester. The professor even offered to meet at 7:30 p.m. that night to go over everything. Out of your group of seven people, only one other shows up to the meeting. The meeting goes as well as possible with half the slideshow missing, because he is pleased about what is there. You go back to your room and just decide that whatever happens tomorrow, happens.  

You wake up and go to class, and you open the PowerPoint  to see that nothing has been added to the project except for a few pictures on one slide. As time passes, more people enter the classroom, and you notice only three of your seven members have shown up for the presentation. 

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been here before. In group projects, there are always going to be people who do more than others and people who don’t do much of anything. When someone is given a chance to do less work, it makes sense to take it. But it is not fair to the people who have to shoulder more of the burden.  

No one wants to present a PowerPoint at 8 a.m. the day after fall break. I get that. I didn’t want to work on a PowerPoint over fall break, and I definitely did not want to be stressed about who would do their work or show up to do their part for the presentation.  But more than anything, I don’t like being taken advantage of. 

No one likes to feel used. But that’s what’s happening in this situation. When you make the decision to skip class the day of a presentation, you are leaving someone else to do the work for you. And in this case, it wouldn’t just be me. It would be everyone in the group who decided to show up and work together to help deliver a complete presentation that they poured time and effort into making.  

It’s selfish to skip class or not do any work in a group setting because, in a group, people rely on you. At least, they should be able to rely on you. 

In an ideal world, everyone in a group would do their part. Group projects shine when a group functions together and everyone does their part. That’s the main idea behind them — people working together to achieve a common goal while communicating about any concerns or pressing needs. Group projects were made to develop communication skills and teach people how to work together. 

But we do not live in an ideal world, and this does not happen often. Instead, we get things like the nightmare I experienced this semester. 

People don’t think about how not doing work in a group will affect other people. Instead, it’s easy to just look at the benefits of not working on the project. 

So, what is a remedy for the issue of laziness in group projects? How do we go about solving an issue that allows people to get away with taking advantage others other in an academic setting? 

Addressing this issue starts with how the professor introduces the group project. They should stress that everyone works on the project. Students  should communicate with their groups and express concerns, expectations and goals. 

Finally, after the project is complete, the professor should assign a self assessment to the group that allows them to be honest about the project’s workload. This allows for groups to review where they can improve in their communication and quality of work.  

To everyone reading this, please think about how you affect the people in your group. Are you helping, or are you part of the problem?