Group projects have a place in college

By Kaity Kempf | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

Group projects get a really bad rep. I know the group project horror stories —everyone does. You are assigned to a group of individuals who are seemingly incompetent and give you nothing to work with, but you don’t want to fail. Of course, you end up doing the entire project on your own. I get it; we’ve all been there. However, when a group project is set up correctly and you aren’t paired with the worst classmates ever, group work can be amazing. And honestly, I believe group projects are far superior to individual work.

Individual work can often leave you feeling lost and confused about your area of study, and you may be forced to teach yourself the basics in order to get by. Humans are, by nature, social creatures, and learning the topic in a group can allow individual members to understand the concepts more deeply.

If you are struggling in a certain class, it’s always helpful to have an ally to teach you their train of thought and set you on the right path to succeed in the course. There have often been times in a difficult course when I have had to find refuge with my fellow classmates to understand certain ideas that were taught to me. We would meet with no idea of what’s happening, and afterward, we would leave confident that we understood the material.

Group projects can also set you up for success in the work field. Done properly, group projects can teach you essential and valuable life skills and set you on a path for greatness in communication with others, compromise, creativity, planning and executing projects/ideas. Like I said earlier, humans are social creatures, and no company will want to hire a hermit who doesn’t know how to play well with others. Businesses want someone who is compatible with their company and the people involved, as well as who is willing to compromise and take criticism for their work. Being excellent at teamwork is an extremely valuable skill for future careers and even life itself.

According to some studies, people tend to remember what is discussed in a group better (Barkley, Cross & Major, 2005). Individuals are more likely to retain the information because of better, deeper understanding alongside comrades. When students work in small groups, they learn more and remember it longer than when the same content is offered in a different teaching method. I also believe this to be true in my own experience, as even years after, I remember a group project, yet I have trouble recalling individual work that I had also done at that time.

I have been so happy with my classes throughout my time at Baylor; however, I have been extremely disappointed with the lack of group projects. Obviously, this could be because we are just now finding a sense of normalcy after COVID-19, and online group projects are not exactly easy and don’t provide the same positive outcomes as in-person group projects. I like group projects, and I would even go so far as to say that I enjoy and learn more from group projects versus individual work that I am assigned.

I think it would be great to see more class options that are project-based learning rather than the setup we have now. Perhaps we will get to the point where when a student is registering for classes, they can choose a class based on how it’s taught since everyone enjoys learning in different ways naturally.

Maybe this could be the next “group project” for Baylor faculty and staff. What do you think?