Vent - I'm frustrated with my study group lately

  • Thread starter Drokrath
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  • #1
Drokrath
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When it comes to completing homework all they seem to care about is getting the right answer and being done with it. I mean I get it, physics is time intensive and we're all doing the same work for the same classes (me with some extra actually) . But if you don't want to actually put the work in you need to either take a lighter course load or find something easier to study (or any of several other options too).

There were rumblings of this when we first started studying together last semester, but it wasn't nearly as bad as this semester, I guess because it wasn't as easy to find answers. This semester is so much worse, though. In our E&M class, we're using griffiths, so the solutions are of course available online. They don't even attempt to solve these, from day one they were just rote-copying the solutions from the manual. The professor doesn't seem to care or even notice. It doesn't help that he's been teaching at this school for 50+ years and apparently asked to stop teaching this class a while ago but was refused.

I would say that this will come back and bite them but all of this professor's tests are open book, open note. pretty much anything you can print, write out, or find in a book is fair game. This means that they don't have to know the material, and they know it. Ok fine, maybe in E&M 2 they'll regret it...oh, wait, it's taught by the same professor, out of the same book. The GRE might get them, but it's mostly university physics stuff, so I've heard, and they'll probably rely on me and a few other students to carry them through the studying anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want my friends to fail, far from that actually. It's just incredibly frustrating when I go painstakingly over my homework, only using the solution manual to make sure I did it right, and get a less-than-perfect score while they copy it word-for-word and get 100%, then brag about it later. Satisfaction at a job well done and knowledge gained can only carry me through so many lost hours of sleep.
 
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  • #2
Stephen Tashi
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The usual advice is that slackers or wrong doers eventually suffer from their actions - goodness wins out in the end and the books are all balanced. That may be statistically true, but I haven't observed it to be the rule on a case-by-case basis. Your diligence may or may not be rewarded. Perhaps you will profit from understanding E&M in depth or perhaps in the path of your life won't require knowing it. I sympathize with your frustration. Why are you participating in the study group?
 
  • #3
Drokrath
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The usual advice is that slackers or wrong doers eventually suffer from their actions - goodness wins out in the end and the books are all balanced. That may be statistically true, but I haven't observed it to be the rule on a case-by-case basis. Your diligence may or may not be rewarded. Perhaps you will profit from understanding E&M in depth or perhaps in the path of your life won't require knowing it. I sympathize with your frustration. Why are you participating in the study group?
As I'm sure isn't uncommon among physics majors, I was a lonely kid. I hardly had any friends in high school, and didn't really find a friend group until my second semester of freshman year in college. This small group fell apart when one dropped out and moved back to Texas and the other two left for a semester on Co-op. This was another lonely semester for me, until I found this group of a few physics majors that I really clicked with. We started doing homework together last semester (we all hit the undergrad classical mechanics wall at the same time), and our group of four has been close friends ever since. Doing homework together this semester seemed obvious and...default, I guess, for lack of a better word. As I grew frustrated with their habits as described above, I tried to suggest doing homework individually (they often depend on me or another couple of students to explain problems to them) but they were upset at the idea, as you can imagine. I fear pushing it too far because I don't want to lose my only real friends at college.
 
  • #4
Stephen Tashi
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I fear pushing it too far because I don't want to lose my only real friends at college.

That's understandable. A large part of having friends is tolerating their abberations - and having one's own tolerated. Is the study group a big commitment in terms of time?
 
  • #5
Drokrath
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That's understandable. A large part of having friends is tolerating their abberations - and having one's own tolerated. Is the study group a big commitment in terms of time?
Only really in that when we study and work together we tend to goof off a bit and have tangential or unrelated conversations. But I don't mind these delays. The socialization is fun and important for mental health. Truthfully, I don't even mind when they ask me questions, after all, teaching is often the best way to learn something well, and I often ask them questions too. Or at least I do when they understand the material somewhat and can answer them. It really just annoys me when there is no reward (in fact, somewhat of a penalty) for my diligence and hard work, not that they aren't punished for their laziness (or other issues, I don't mean to insult them).
 
  • #6
Rive
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It really just annoys me when there is no reward (in fact, somewhat of a penalty) for my diligence and hard work...
You are doing fine, as I see it: at least, mostly fine. By keeping them company (and by bringing them up) you have a (social) foundation. What you miss is a second group, which could give you edge. Is there some kind of club, competition, research group or something around where you could take care of your motivation and 'reward'?
 
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  • #7
Stephen Tashi
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There is the saying: "No good deed goes unpunished."
 
  • #8
Klystron
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A common saying in engineering work groups: "Ten percent of the people perform 90% of the task."
 
  • #9
StatGuy2000
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There is the saying: "No good deed goes unpunished."

I have never really believed in this saying, since the lesson or implication is "Don't bother doing good deeds."
 
  • #10
StatGuy2000
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A common saying in engineering work groups: "Ten percent of the people perform 90% of the task."

Of course this begs the question among engineers: what do the other 90% of the people do?
 
  • #11
Stephen Tashi
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I have never really believed in this saying, since the lesson or implication is "Don't bother doing good deeds."

I take the implication to be: Don't count on being rewarded for good deeds. Do them with a realistic view of the possible outcomes.
 
  • #12
Klystron
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Of course this begs the question among engineers: what do the other 90% of the people do?
Let us not divert the thread; however, the OP appears to be a good person and the information potentially useful later in their career.

I worked as a software engineer at a physics "think tank" through college and then as general computer manager at a science think tank in Menlo Park, CA. The 10/90 percentages are colloquial, not accurate, and people multitask. While charging to an engineering project number, group members spent much time:
  • reading and composing emails; a few work related, most personal.
  • surfing the Internet. Several entrepreneurs managed online businesses such as real estate.
  • attending meetings; probably the largest single human cost point at NASA.
  • attending classes, seminars, group study (I tied this list to the thread) often with travel.
  • going to non-project related appointments.
  • paying bills, managing family issues by phone, planning vacations and free time.
  • engaging in office politics, backstabbing, spreading rumors and dissatisfaction.
  • socializing, planning and going to meals, pretending to work on some completed part of a project.
  • writing reports. At least this last item may help the project managers.
  • updating resumes and CV's.
 
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  • #13
Stephen Tashi
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Let us not diverge the thread;

Ok. The original post is an expression of frustration involving a group of friends who have divergent attitudes toward the task of doing homework. My general advice is that one must expect divergent styles in a group of people doing a task, so disappointment (i.e. suprise) about this should not be the cause of the frustration. Of course, one can be frustrated with people when they behave as expected, but I find this type of frustration weaker than when I'm surprised.
 
  • #14
Klystron
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@Stephen Tashi , I think your replies are helpful and to the point of the OP's dilemma. To summarize my response " a few people perform most of the work" in group settings, is meant to prepare for a post-academic life where their experience in friendly study sessions may well be repeated later in their career.

The frustration the OP experiences as a student carrying the weight of their study group could well translate to leadership positions later in life. Thanks.
 
  • #15
Vanadium 50
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Of course this begs the question among engineers: what do the other 90% of the people do?

The other 90% of the task.
 
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