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Group projects

  1. Sep 28, 2011 #1


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    These things just happen to me (to alot of others I'm sure) every once in a while

    The class has group projects, everyone assigned to groups either random because I know absolutely no one in a new class or to someone I know. I hate it when one of the following happens:

    1) I seem to be the only person that wants to get any work done, suddenly I'm expected to do all the work

    2) Not wanting to repeat what is decribed in 1) I just sit back and wait for others to start their parts. But most of them do little or nothing. Eventually for the fear of of getting bad grades I end up having to take over most of the work anyway otherwise we wouldn't make it before the deadline.

    3) Like most teachers/lecturers/cordinator says, communicate. Ok, arrange formal meetings and agree upon who is doing what and expect to finish on what time etc etc. Except there will be those who either "asks for help" and basically want other to do their part for them, or make no effort to meet the set dates and produce rubbish thinking others will see it as acceptable.

    Everytime when I see group work in the course description I can't help but cringe and pray none of the above would happen. The only way I know to prevent them is knowing some nice competent people before hand and agree to pair up or form a group. But that is not always possible. For example I am planning on getting a masters coursework degree in engineering overseas, one of the course description includes 40% coursework. I don't know anyone there. Well, I could try through various communities before the semester starts but it will be like fishing.

    I have also heard that in some jobs the managers doesn't care how the work gets done, but if the workload doesn't add up the whole team gets screwed.

    I have become so paranoid with people I need to work with :uhh:
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2011 #2
    A good group leader is someone who can motivate his team to do equal work IMO.

    I have similar horror stories about my freshman engineering classes which was caucased out - we were given spontaneous overnighter assignments that were available at 5pm and due at 8am. The first few assignments were maybe 3-4hrs of work (with most of that making the report look pretty) - but my teammates insisted on overthinking the problem and spending the entire night on the work. The first I remember well - it was a problem involving the trajectory of a golf ball (accounting for its spin-based lift) and a few different related scenarios. We were given parameters, and needed to submit all mathmatical work using Mathcad, etc. Rather than using the equations and parameters given, some of the geniuses on my team wanted to reinvent the wheel and attempt to break down the given tragectory equations into different forms (I still don't totally understand what they were trying to do). I got frustrated and wrote out all of the work neccessary on a piece of paper, handed it to them and said make it pretty. I checked in on them 5 hours later (~midnight at this point), and they had finally given up on their grandiose attempt and were using the worked solution I had given them. We got an A on that assignment. A later overnight assignment I missed because of other school commitments (each of the group missed some of the work time to time) - they went with their reinvent the wheel approach and we failed the assignment. Be careful about wishing for an active team - you may still have problems!

    10 years later and more mature, I'm not sure how I'd handle these same situations. In the business world: group projects often relate to individual accolades dependant on work - obviously in school it's a touch different. I think that I lacked the confidence to call people out tactfully. When group projects become a reality in my current academic career I think I would be more direct with the shenanigans of other individuals. If someone is truly incapable, then I may have to pickup the slack - but everyone needs to have the opportunity to contribute. Depending on the instructor - if an individual really is free riding there should be some recourse.
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