PRO/CON Group projects: Cooperation of conflagration?
October 14, 2015
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With the looming expectations of college and the real world, every student is taught that they have to acquire certain academic and intellectual skills in order to be successful. However, it is unclear to some people that every individual who hopes to achieve such success needs to learn the essential skills of working in a cooperative group environment.
They believe that it is preferable to let students work alone in every assignment and project. These students argue that they work better on their own, and that group projects are nothing but distracting. However, these arguments do not stand against the importance of collaboration and the fact that teamwork can take assignments and projects to a level far beyond that of an individual working alone, by using a variety of skills to accomplish the overall goal.
In any work environment, it is essential that each person knows how to work with others. Anyone who wishes to be successful must first develop his or her own social skills and sense of community. In the future, students will need to be able to show teamwork and other such social skills to survive in their home and workplace. Most jobs require the ability to discuss ideas with others, or to communicate with both superiors and coworkers in some way. Whether you are a business woman or a math teacher, you must learn how to clearly convey your thoughts and ideas to others. High school should prepare a student for the real world, in which one is required to cooperate with others.
Group projects allow students to be exposed to an environment in which they must provide their own opinions and ideas in order for their peers to be successful. Students are left with no choice but to put aside their differences and work in a team to accomplish their goal of a good grade, and by doing so, they develop their sense of community and collaboration. It’s impossible to put together PowerPoint presentations, posters, or any type of group work, without properly assigning roles, sorting out contrasting opinions, and building on others’ ideas.
Furthermore, a classroom of students is incredibly diverse in personalities, ideas, individual strengths, and individual weaknesses. A group project allows students to bring all bring their diversity together and work toward a common cause. With a group of uniquely talented students, everyone can contribute parts to the project, forming a distinctive environment that allows the assignment to be a mixture of several intelligent and remarkable ideas, instead of just one.
In order for a student to be fully prepared to continue the rest of their life after high school, they must have developed skills that can only be uncovered in a group environment. The implementation of a group project will help students to form ideas together that will result in the best possible product. It is a simple and undeniable fact that group assignments will nurture skills and produce ideas that cannot come from working alone.
The mere mention of the term “group project” can elicit groans from students, and for good reason. Rarely is there anything positive said about these collaborative assignments, because for students there is more to lose than there is to gain. While it can be argued that group projects are essential for a student’s development since they are crucial in developing teamwork in the real-world, the way group projects work in school does not make this scenario the case. Time and time again, the same negative situations happen.
A common gripe concerning group work is that there is always at least one person who slacks off and doesn’t do any work. In a perfect group project, the work is evenly divided and every member does his or her own work on time, which ensures the project’s success. This, however, does not happen often. Even in advanced courses, where students are generally held to higher standards, some students decide not to contribute or turn in late the part they were assigned to do. This is not a problem that can be solved through communication and learning to mutually cooperate through individual member differences. If a person decides not to do anything, he or she will not suddenly have a change of heart just because the other group members ask for the part to be done.
The idea of teamwork becomes moot then, and students often complain that they have to share a good grade with somebody who did not earn it fairly, or that their grade were impacted because of the negligence of a team member.
While this problem can be mitigated if a teacher assigns individual accountability and allows students to rate their teammates based on how much they contributed, it doesn’t erase the problem of stress and tedious work that is brought along by group projects.
It’s understandable what teachers are trying to do with these projects. They are supposed to engage students and have them think beyond just test taking, but at some point they become busy work. If certain group projects were never assigned again, students would not miss out on much because they simply do not gain any new knowledge from that music video or written play.
When a group project is assigned, more work is piled on top of the normal assignments that students face in their other classes. Big group projects usually take more than a day to finish, creating unnecessary stress as students discuss when to meet up to work on the project. The work pile becomes worse, of course, when one student decides not to do anything and another decides to become akin to a future tyrant in the making.
The best kind of group work, healthy collaboration, occurs when it isn’t forced upon students. Group projects are not collaboration but rather added stress makers to student’s lives.