Group Projects: College Dumbed Down

Katie David

At a time when issues such as racism, classism and other forms of bigotry are floating around this campus it is probably inappropriate for me to write a piece about the futility of group projects. However, group projects are spreading like an epidemic around this campus. I have had three this week, and I believe this is also a phenomenon, albeit not nearly as serious as racism, that needs to be stopped.

At first, group projects may seem like a good idea. They seemingly promote the sharing of ideas, intellectual discourses based on different perspectives and the ability to learn a lot of material without doing a large amount of work. However, I have never had this kind of illuminating experience with a group project and have never met anyone who has.

Instead, group projects tend to produce stress, frustration and disappointment. We feel stressed about finding a time to meet with our members who, like most college students, have extremely busy schedules.

We feel frustrated when our group members don’t put in their share of the work or are unwilling to compromise when it comes time to produce a cohesive work. We feel disappointed when the project turns out disjointed and not up to our standards. We never feel any kind of intellectual fulfillment or pride like which the project is supposed to give us.

Group projects do not work for the same reason that communism has failed in so many parts of the world. In the framework of society, there will always be people who are more hard-working or more intelligent than others. There will also be people who do not care about their own success. In order to create an efficient and intellectual society, those who work harder should be rewarded, while others should see those rewards as an incentive for their own hard work.

This system, the basis for capitalism, is also the basis for academia. In college, it is up to the individual student to do his readings thoroughly, write his papers well, study hard for his exams and gain insight from class discussions. If you choose not to do these important tasks, you will ultimately suffer bad grades and an overall mediocre college experience.

However, in the realm of group projects, these ideas are turned upside-down. In a group project, if an individual decides to slack off, he can expect that his other group member will pick up the slack. When everyone gets the same grade, there is no incentive for many people to work hard, knowing they can rely on others for success.

For those hard-working members of the group, all too often their drive is not rewarded as other members shirk their own responsibilities. I’m not opposed to sharing ideas and discussing important issues with others. I believe these kinds of exchanges, both formal and informal, should be an integral part of education. However, the format of group projects does not produce this kind of discourse. Instead, it most likely makes the group members, who are probably short on time, resent each other’s differences, seeing them as a hindrance to forming a cohesive project.

Collaborative efforts should be saved for class discussions and the music industry. When a professor would like his students to explore a topic and create a project in response, he should allow them to use their individual talents to complete the task successfully.