Group projects are pointless

Story by Bridget Cooke, Staff Writer

Chances are most students have participated. Most professors have assigned. Oh, if only the inaudible groan could be heard from 3/4 of the class as the instructor announces there will be a group project assigned throughout the semester. Sometimes a few even dare to make the sound aloud.

At least it is in the syllabus, giving warning to all in the room who either despise group projects, (i.e. most people,) and to those select few who get really excited at the idea of meeting possible, albeit reluctant, new friends.

Some will drop the course, opting for an easier route that won’t include mandatory interaction with people who could possibly be the worst human beings they’ve ever met. They could also have social anxiety problems, in which case forcing them to take part in arbitrary group work is asinine.

Others stick it out, viewing the content of the class as too important to miss. Then there are those who simply do not like change.

These pupils will sit through it, grinding their teeth while the peppy self-appointed leader starts getting jazzed at the idea of meeting in the library to work together and outlines ideas on the notebook in front of them. The inevitable exchange of contact information is performed and then they’re off, everyone falling into their expected archetypes.

  • The slacker

We all know this person. There’s that one guy or girl who just doesn’t do much. They disappear the day the group is assigned their project and only reappear to finally take credit on the day it’s due.

  • The leader

Within a group, leaders are needed. Unfortunately these are usually take the brunt of the work, preparing for a presentation by themselves or forcing everyone — except the slacker, no one is getting that guy — to share schedules so meeting times can be arranged. This is probably the saddest position when filled by a friend-seeking individual who wastes more time asking about a person’s spring break than what they think of the topic. Most of the time they end up alienated, for the most part, due to those traits.

  • The wannabe

This person is the leader’s right hand. They are usually more seeking of acceptance and trying to perform the duties of leader, but are much less successful in their endeavors and end up being overthrown in every decision they care about.

  • The blend-in

This person has got this down to a science; show up for meetings, do work the leader assigns to them and get it done a few days before the due date. They’re generally well-liked, but standoffish because they are one of the students who were too lazy to find another class to register for once they read this particular section in the syllabus on the first day of class.

  • The resentful

The resentful generally gets work done, but pretty much hates everyone except the blend-in. They begrudgingly muddle through their assigned portion, with anger that could stem from a multitude of reasons, from the leader taking their rightful place to the slacker never showing up to help with any of the damn research.

All of these people make up the typical group assigned to a semester project full of agony and annoyance.

Group work is useless. It’s real world applications are limited to the heads up of finding another slacker at the office in which a student will some day work. (There’s always at least one.) Groups don’t function well, regardless of well-intentions by a professor trying to train human beings for the “real world.”

Everyone has separate schedules that are not accommodating 99 percent of the time. In a five-person assemblage, there could be a student athlete, two people who work with alternating schedules that include weekend hours, one social butterfly who may or may not drive home to the Twin Cities every other weekend, and then of course, the person who never shows up anyway.

And on the side of the instructor, assigning these tasks not only makes them look like they’re slacking in their job duties, but also creates an atmosphere of animosity. Even well-intended ideas only prove to create more problems, and with group projects, those issues add up quickly.