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Group projects are fun… until they aren't

Kyra Garabedian

Graphics Editor

Photo via US news & world report

I remember the good old days in grade school where being assigned a group project was the most exciting part of school. No matter what the class was, working with classmates always made time go by faster and more exciting. Fast forward to senior year of college and I absolutely dread even thinking about group assignments. What happened?

Here I am, sitting in a course where more than half of my grade will come from group projects. At first I didn’t think this was a huge issue, as the course requires a good amount of group discussion and the sharing of ideas. However, I quickly became concerned when I realized a major assignment is intended to be worked on by groups of five students.

I admit, I may be a bit type-A when it comes to grades and assignments. I care about my grades and I acknowledge that not every student has the same concerns I do when it comes to earning those grades. I put my full effort into every graded assignment to ensure I do the best I can in each course. I firmly believe that working hard to earn exceptional grades is the key to success. So, what happens when I only complete one out of five parts of an assignment and I have never met my group members?

You see, I understand why group projects are great collaboration exercises. It is a very important skill to be able to work with others to accomplish a task. As a future teacher, I also understand that group projects significantly reduce the amount of grading instructors must do. Under the right circumstances collaborating with peers on assignments can be more productive than working alone. However, I am very concerned about how effective a group project can be when the only connection between group members is through a computer screen.

It’s difficult enough to communicate through Zoom with group members during classwork. Therefore I am very concerned about how collaborating on an assignment that is worth almost half of our grades will work out. We have all experienced technical glitches and difficulties when trying to use Zoom, and there is always the potential that some group members don’t contribute to the project at all.

If this course were meeting in person, I think there would be a much better way for groups to effectively communicate and collaboratively work together. However, I believe that an online format will have negative effects on the group work experience. Just like many other areas of learning that need to be reconsidered due to COVID-19 modifications, I think group projects are at the top of that list.

I know that I will put my best effort in, and hopefully I will have a group that has the same philosophy. It’s no secret that online learning has significantly reduced student motivation and work ethic, but with a high stakes assignment, it is crucial to have full participation from every group member. I am hopeful that we find ways as a group that work best for us in order to fully collaborate and do the best we can.


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