Con: Group work just doesn’t work

William Evangelista, Staff Writer

Freshman Kurshat Muhhamet does his part on a group project. (William Evangelista)

Commonly assigned in all classes, group projects seem to be more prevalent now that students are back to in-person learning. But despite their frequency in classrooms, at least one per quarter for most classes, and how most teachers feel they work well in the classroom , the problems of group work are too numerous to ignore. While they may seem like a good way to improve collaboration skills and allow classmates to get to know each other, group projects fail in every other aspect.
A common criticism of group projects is that they cause one person in a group to do all the work, while many others become lazy and contribute nothing.

“It’s very frustrating when you have to give full effort on something that was somebody else’s job to do,” freshman Kurshat Muhhamet said. “People can slack off with no consequences while one person has to do everyone’s work.”

“I think I have been guilty of doing things like that in the past,” freshman Dylan Orr said. “Where I know that I can get away with doing minimal effort, instead relying on my other group members to do the work instead. Then when I have a regular, non-group assignment, I also give minimal effort, and that can really hurt your grades.”

Research found by Carnegie Mellon University shows that “free riding” as it’s called, is a large contributing factor towards lower motivation and less accountability. Free riding occurs when one or more group members leaves most or all of the work to a small group of, or just one member(s). If not addressed, it tends to erode the motivation of hardworking students when students free ride on group projects and still get good grades.

“There have definitely been a lot of times when I have been that person that does all the work,” freshman Amish Desetty said. “Especially if it is only you, and one other person working on an assignment, one person usually does 90% of the work and that can be tiring.”

While many group projects have assigned partners, some teachers allow students to choose who they want to work with, which can have good effects on some students, but bad effects on others.

When you try to get work done with your friends, you just end up doing nothing for a long time and get zero work done.”

— freshman Dylan Orr

“I like it when I get to work with my friends,” Orr Said . “But I think that it might contribute to giving less effort in your work.”

While there are many problems with group work, their effectiveness could be improved. If teachers implement a system that makes sure each student is doing an equal amount of work, group projects could be a more viable option in the classroom.

“While there are many problems with group projects now, I believe that improvement is sure to come,” Muhhamet said .