Points of View: Group projects are risky business

By Allyssa Schoonover

At some point in your college career, regardless of major or classification, you encounter a group project. They are dreaded by most students for a variety of reasons.

Coordinating schedules with a group of people can be a pain. Different personalities clash and ultimate academic frustration ensues. Your grade is now dependent on other people who may or may not care whether your project gets an A or a C.

Not only is there usually someone with a very lackadaisical attitude, sometimes there is a group member who wants to go above and beyond what is necessary, which can be as equally obnoxious.

The Slacker
The slacker coasts along on everyone else’s hard work, hoping the rest of the group is kind enough not to totally sabotage their grade on the peer reviews. There seems to be one of these people in every group. They never show up to meetings or, when they do, there is minimal effort or input given to the project.

The Dictator
He or she immediately takes charge, dividing everyone’s tasks. They nitpick at your work and has to double-check every detail. They create the group message and/or email and blow up your phone with plans and tasks for everyone to do. Their opinion and ideas are golden and everyone else must agree. The dictator, while annoying, usually gets things done and helps make sure everyone does their part in a timely manner. Every group needs a leader, but sometimes that leader is a dictator.

The Overachiever
Taking nearly the whole weight of the project on his or her own shoulders ,the overachiever excludes the rest of the group. While some students may enjoy this invitation to relax and have their grade handed to them on a silver platter, others feel differently. They have a strong sense of responsibility to do their part and the overachiever robs them of that. Not to mention the looming peer reviews. Will the overachiever take responsibility for everyone else’s lack of participation or gain vengeance by giving poor peer reviews?

The Minimalist
It’s pretty much a guarantee that there will be a member of your group that just does the bare minimum. He or she does his or her fair share of work but lets everyone else do the bulk of it. You can’t be mad at the minimalist because he or she hasn’t done anything wrong but it’s still annoying to have to pick up their slack. He or she doesn’t offer to do anything extra and no one else really wants to assign tasks to him or her either.

Group projects are incredibly unpredictable. Whether your group is assigned or chosen, you never really know how it’s going to turn out. While teachers may think peer reviews keep everyone accountable, it barely accomplishes that goal. A lot of people feel guilty giving bad reviews. How does bringing down someone else’s grade help yours? It doesn’t, so there’s really no point in ever giving a poor review.

Group projects are supposed to teach us how to work together and prepare us for the real world, but the difference in setting and motivation is so different that I don’t think they really do this either. Not much we can do about this, though. Group projects are inevitable, and all we can do is hope and pray for a good group.

Allyssa Schoonover is a senior journalism major from Andover, Kan. She is a reporter for The Lariat.