I hate group assignments!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by kretzy, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. kretzy macrumors 604

    kretzy

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #1
    *begins rant*

    I always hated doing group assignment in high school, but I thought once I got to uni things might be different. I was wrong. :mad:

    As a group, we had to give a class presentation accompanied by 500 words each (so 2000 words all up). I offered to do the slides for the presentation, because I've seen some hideous Powerpoint things over the years and I just can't deal with things looking crap. When we were organising everything, I told everyone to send me the info they wanted on their slides, along with any pictures, I even offered to cut out video clips (the presentation was on Desperate Housewives, so it was useful to have video clips).

    Nobody sent me anything until very late the night before we had to give the presentation! I didn't end up getting any sleep that night.

    Another girl had offered to put the essay together, which I also ended up doing an hour before the presentation because nobody except for me had sent her anything. Another girl thought that we only needed to do 500 words all up so she had like a paragraph to contribute. :rolleyes:

    When we were giving the presentation (it was supposed to be about about 5 mins each), the other three people in my group went on and on (like 10-15mins) and repeated themselves and each other because they hadn't organised themselves properly. I could the rest of the class and the tutor were getting bored and annoyed.

    The thing that really sucks is that the group only gets one mark, so I've done all this work and because of other people being crap I sure we'll get a crappy mark! :mad: :(

    *ends rant*

    Anyway, I apologise for the longevity. People just annoy me. Has anyone got any ideas on how to prevent this from happening next time?
     
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #2
    Group assignments at uni always end up being done by a select few members of the group. The people who actually like group assignments tend to be the people who don't do the work. They suck, but they're a pretty good way of introducing us to real world work where, in many cases, a lot of work is conducted in groups. :(
     
  3. kretzy thread starter macrumors 604

    kretzy

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    Sep 11, 2004
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #3
    All very true! My mum said exactly the same thing about it being a good introduction to working in the real world. I suppose that's just the way it is, and not much can be done about it. I just think it's an extremely unfair way to mark things.
     
  4. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    Apr 3, 2004
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    Adelaide, Australia
    #4
    Yeah. Some of my old engineering subjects had a pretty good system whereby each member was given a confidential evaluation form at the end of the project and were told to rate each member. The grade was then scaled accordingly.
     
  5. SamIchi macrumors 68030

    SamIchi

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    Aug 1, 2004
    #5
    Luckily I've only had 1 group thingy, and they were pretty cool, except 1 person. We also had the evaluations at the end, and yea we all gave her a bad grade.
     
  6. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #6
    Raises hand.

    Perhaps it's easier for professors to assign/grade bigger projects, but they are rarely fair.

    I found only one advantage to a group assigment, when I had two partners and we had to write an operating system from scratch. They both had first initial B, so we called it the BBQ operating system! True story.
     
  7. nightdweller25 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    #7
    Actually, this happened to me at the end of last week. The day before it was due I just did it all myself and presented alone and my parter got an F, I got an A:D
     
  8. kretzy thread starter macrumors 604

    kretzy

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    Canberra, Australia
    #8
    That's a very funny story Doctor Q!

    I like the idea of group members marking each other, it would make things a lot fairer I think.
     
  9. DrEasy macrumors member

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    Jan 12, 2004
    #9
    In fact profs hate group assignments too. They realize that it leads to unfair grading, but often the decision comes from "above" (in the case of engineering, it is mandated by various accreditation boards).
     
  10. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    Apr 27, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #10
    I hate group assignments also. :mad:

    ...but lately my instructors have been nice enough to make sure everyone in the group does their part. For example, for the last project we did, we had to keep a log of the time each member spent doing what.

    Another method was that the entire group would get the points (for a 5 person group the max might be 1000 points) and then the group members had to determine how to divide them up between members.
     
  11. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #11
    Perhaps they should teach project management before they ask for group assignments.

    The only way I've ever found any kind of group assignment gets done (in the real world or in school) is to agree an earlier time limit for the material to be collected together - and if you don't meet it, your name gets scratched from the final entry.
     
  12. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    American Riviera
    #12
    I agree with Applespider about the project management suggestion. As a scientist I find myself working in groups constantly, it's just a fact of life for the field. The most significant factor in success usually lies in the structuring of responsibility and accountability before the work gets started. This is linked of course to the ability of the leader (and there always needs to be someone in this role) to hold the team members to account. Typically in school this falls to the person most concerned about getting a good grade.

    Managing people and getting those who don't necessarily want to carry their share of the load can be a frustrating task, but vital to success in the future. Sorry to sound like an old fart (especially since I'm not yet 30), but "it'll be good for you" .

    *gets off of soapbox*
     
  13. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

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    Nov 7, 2003
    #13
    well once you start working, it is a big old group assignments, expect you get paid and can be fired for not doing working. Not to say that there is fairness in life because there are people that work jobs that they pick all the co-workers slack and get no return.
     
  14. kretzy thread starter macrumors 604

    kretzy

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    Sep 11, 2004
    Location:
    Canberra, Australia
    #14
    Yeah I think some management tips would be very beneficial. I must say though, that when we got started I made sure we'd split everything up so that everybody knew what they had to do. They were just too lazy to do the work. I think the idea of inner-group assessment would be a really good incentive for people to get more work done.
     
  15. LACOSTE macrumors member

    LACOSTE

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    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Australia
    #15
    its always hard to get things done the last minute, but the majority of students do anyway.

    Here at sydney uni everyone's got something due right after the easter break. So we decided early on to do group assignments before the easter break. It helps if you know the ppl in your group well, coza then if they miss the agreed deadline you can really give them a hard time... instead of gossipping behind their backs that they didnt do enough work.

    Oh and we have a system for any group work called 'peer contribution' marking. THe overall group mark is determined by how the other members of ur group has rated ur contribution. In that case u are well on ur right to give em zeros and reap whats left of the group mark. But then you might get cold stares and possibly get poisoned once they find out... maybe 3 out of 5 :). happy easter guys.
     
  16. floriflee macrumors 68030

    floriflee

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    Dec 21, 2004
    #16
    I'm kind of surprised that more teachers/professors don't do inner-group assessments. I mean, they should know how the real world works so they should look to try and find out who within the group actually contributed and how much.

    Teamwork reminds me of a construction site where one person's digging the hole while five others are standing around watching....

    Anyway, off to work....
     
  17. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040

    Kwyjibo

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2002
    #17
    The best way to be in a group in college is to be in a smart group but pretend to be the dumb one. This involves asking some simple questions and an often puzzled look on your face. The group will assign you the easiest part of the project. You complete the project to the best of your knowledge and when you show it to the group, say something like I tried really hard and worked on it for a while, and i think its pretty good .... Now the fact that you have better work than they were expecting never hurts in evaluations because people assume you did your best. This is the best way to get through college groupwork but the truly anal can't handle letting another anal person do their work so ....

    You become the leader, and set some firm deadlines and make people follow the deadlines ... If people aren't at all respecting you, its a reflection on the leadership usually
     
  18. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

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    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #18
    the really benefit of this group assignment is not the work you do. it makes you realize where you are in respect to others, what your abilities are and you preferred way of working.
    next time you will based on this experience choose better partners (if you are allowed to choose), identify the weak links earlier, if neccessary take the lead and make people do the work your way.
    in the third group assignment you will have learned from your mistakes again and be more efficient in making people do their share without causing tensions in the group.

    group assignments are good. they suck and they are unfair but in the end they are good for you.
     
  19. Josh macrumors 68000

    Josh

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    Mar 4, 2004
    Location:
    State College, PA
    #19
    I agree entirely.

    Group projects have no place in higher education, where much more is at stake than in previous schools (middle school, high school, etc).

    Often times, some hard working student, who works 40 hours a week to pay for school, and does their best to retain their 4.0 gets in a group with some people who are only their because their parents pay for them to be there.

    The hardworking student's grade should never be given the oppertunity to be affected by any other student.

    I do believe teamwork and cooperation is important, but not when it can have an affect on something so influential as one's education.

    But to be fair, there are good experiences and bad ones. Sometimes, which I believe to be the less often, a group project actually ends up a very, very good thing.
     
  20. leftbanke7 macrumors 6502a

    leftbanke7

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    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    West Valley City, Utah
    #20
    When I first started college, we had a group project in my American Gov't class. Me and one girl did a lot of work and the other two never showed up to any of the study sessions we set up. A week before it was due, the two of us went up to the professor and told him that since they weren't showing up to any of the meetings, we had no idea if they were going to contribute or what they might contribute. Luckily they did show up with some stuff but it sucked not knowing whether the project was going to suck or not.

    Last semester we had a group project for my Writing Class but the professor only weighed it at 5% of the grade so there was little to worry about. All the people showed up and did their part and the project gave me an excuse to cut a video.

    So I've seen it both ways but overall I am not a fan of the group project at all.
     
  21. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    Los Angeles
    #21
    Excellent suggestion. In one team I was on, where we had a complicated design project involving many group decisions, we spent more time haggling over the decisionmaking process than about the project design itself.

    We had an even number of group members, so voting often produced a tie. We devised a tie-breaking strategy where one member had an extra vote, and the extra vote rotated among the group members. But then one member could ask for a vote on something they didn't really care about in order to move the tiebreaker privilege on to them, so we had to find a cure for that problem, and so on.

    In hindsight, we should have just added one more group member (or ditched one).
     
  22. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #22
    I've taught several college level courses, and I think group work is important. No, teachers don't assign them because they are easier to grade, they assign them because students need to learn to work together, like they do in the real world.

    The real problem is, the classroom model is nothing like the real world. There's no "boss," and no one can get fired. Some students want A's in everything, and some students are happy with B's. So some students are less motivated than others.

    I think the solutions where peer evaluations are a large part of the grade work the best compromise. Then everyone is motivated to at least impress their peers.
     
  23. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

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    Nov 11, 2004
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #23
    Yes I agree that group projects have their purpose.
    The problem I find is that there isnt a clear leader in most groups.
    things fall apart at that point.
    Whenever I work in a group I take over the leader spot even if there officially isnt one. The group I am in tends to get the highest marks in class just because we have our stuff together.
     
  24. adroit macrumors 6502

    adroit

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    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    #24
    Couldn't agree more.

    I find that the best way to do this is to divide the assigment up well, and put in couple of deadlines ahead of the time well before the project was due.

    Also, try to match up group meetings with lunch/dinners or some kind of entertainment. Otherwise people will never show up for group meetings.
     
  25. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040

    Kwyjibo

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    Nov 5, 2002
    #25
    Althought I do find value in group work, even when I'm not pretending to be really dumb. I also know for a fact that some teachers do give out group work so that they have fewer to grade (sometimes this includes larger homeworks with optional groups) but I know for a fact through both professor and TA admissions part of enjoying group work is reading 1/4 the reports.

    But I agree the skills are important, and they teach you how to work with people at a variety of levels. I always use my group experiences when interviewing because especially the teams that go from bad ones to great ones make for the most impressive stories.
     

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