Group Work: We all dread it, and here’s why

If there’s one thing that is shared amongst all university students, it is the feeling of dread and irritation when the course leader announces that half of the credits for the module are to be awarded for a group project. They argue it’s what employers want to see and provides the key skills needed by every graduate, as well as ticking a box to keep them near the top of the University league tables.

But in reality no amount of life skills or even employability rating can justify the painful weeks that lead up to a group assignment. No students want to do it and they don’t understand why they can’t just work in content solitude on their own piece of work as was indicated by the course guide when they visited on the open day.

For different people group work presents different challenges. For some, they begrudge having to run their ideas by others, sharing their knowledge and ability with other students and feeling solely responsible for the high mark the group has gained by the end. For others, they feel panicked that their usual ‘leave it to the night before and hope to scrape a 2:2’ attitude won’t be appreciated by their group members.

The group tends to encompass the same key characters. There’s the one who takes control straight away, chooses the direction of the project and divides up the workload. No one particularly likes them but everyone is secretly glad that it didn’t have to be them.

Then there’s the one that doesn’t show up until the last meet up, silently submitting written work and contributions via online methods but never showing up in person. Every group contains this somewhat mysterious character that would prefer to operate on a heard but not seen basis.

Then there’s the keen bean, the one that takes the whole thing very seriously and wants to discuss it ALL THE TIME. The Facebook chat that has been created to pool ideas and resources and schedule the next meeting has turned into their own personal forum, with messages every hour explaining all that they’ve been up to.

Finally, there’s the awkward one. They don’t like the idea the group are running with, they don’t like the task they’ve been given to do, and they will probably contribute very little to the final outcome. Always seemingly unavailable to meet up when everyone else is free, it’s a wonder how they’ve come this far really.

Want to learn how to make working in a group easier? Check out our videos under “Working in a Team”

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