Skeptical excitement sweeps through me at the start of each semester as the class is led through the syllabus. Several assignments seem like they’ll be easy, and a few seem hard; however, I know I’ll get through it and ace it like the champion that I am. It’s not until my eyes get to the end-of-the-year project and hit the two words that change my entire outlook on the rest of the semester: group project.
Let me be clear. I think group projects can be fun, especially because I get the chance to be creative. It’s just that…they never…okay, how can I put this? Oh, I know: Group projects are evil!
Group projects can be especially bad toward the end of the semester because by that point, you know who misses classes, who doesn’t take the class serious and who wants to get good grades. Most times, no, all the time, the professor picks your group-mates randomly and who do you get stuck with? Yeah. We know the answer to that. I mean sure, I can see how it’s fair to choose students randomly because if people know each other, it becomes cliquey, and it isn’t fair to the students who don’t know anyone or are shy, so like, I get it, but like, mannn!
As the weeks pass, there’s always that one person who never responds to the group texts or emails. This person shows up on the day of the presentation and stays silent in the background, and then we get points off because not everyone participated in the discussion, but that’s not fair because the rest of us worked really hard.
There are even times when drama from another group affects us. In one class, we had a group project and everyone in our team was eager to pass. We were happy to be placed together and knew that we’d ace our presentation. A few weeks in, another group kept disagreeing and got into fights. We looked on in sympathy, but were secretly happy to have each other…that was until the professor decided to disband that group and scatter their remains. We ended up inheriting a person who did nothing but complain. “Why do I have to be here?” she asked. “This presentation is so stupid,” she said. Her whining messed with our dynamic.
However, some groups can be a pleasant surprise. In another class, I was placed in a group of six and we were only allowed to plan outside of class. At first, it was hard to get everyone together, but when we did, everything fell into place. Each person worked on their assigned slide, each person asked questions and communicated answers, and I was able to contribute my creative ideas and they were appreciated. Underneath, I was waiting for something to go wrong, but it never did, and we aced the presentation.
One thing remains the same whether the group was bad or good: There’s sweet relief when it’s over!
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