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How To Work In Groups?

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I hate working in groups at school.

I have classes that are of mixed abilities, from the non-motivated and not so smart kids to extremely motivated kids such as myself. My Art History teacher assigned the class a project to work on and she also assigned the groups we'd be working in. I was assigned the group leader to two non-motivated and not-too smart kids.

I finished my half of the powerpoint presentation. One kid didn't do anything and the other kid filled his slides with false information. I thought the teacher would grade us according to what each of us did, but she didn't. We all got the same grade: 75.

I know I would do much better than a 75 if I had worked alone as I HAD a 95 average in the class until the presentation. When the teacher talked to us about the presentation, she used the other kid's slides as examples of poor content, etc. Mine were fine.

Question is: In the future, how can I work in groups effectively without having to do all the work? Am I supposed to recheck everyone's work to see if it is the correct information? I don't really want to do 3x the work if I don't have to. I am at a loss.

Edited by studentofobjectivism
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I hate working in groups at school.

Me too.

Question is: In the future, how can I work in groups effectively without having to do all the work? Am I supposed to recheck everyone's work to see if it is the correct information? I don't really want to do 3x the work if I don't have to. I am at a loss.

Is this high school or college? If it's high school, then the best advice I can offer is to basically do everybody's work for them. My experience with high school teachers (it's been almost 10 years, but I can't imagine things have changed all that much), is that they aren't typically the most rational bunch. You could try going to your teacher and lobbying for a better grade, but I'm not sure it will do any good. How important was this assignment? Is it crucial to the class? Will your overall GPA be affected significantly? I know things like this are really irritating, but a good thing to keep in mind is that grades in high school don't have anywhere near the life-long significance that guidance counselors like to pretend they do.

If it's college, you have a little more weight to throw around (which is something I'm just starting to learn since I've returned to school). A single presentation can, and usually does, have a large effect on your grade, and a single class grade is far more significant in college (if you plan to go to grad school, anyway). Go to the professor and hash it out. If it was not made clear in the beginning that the project was going to be graded in this manner (check your syllabus, too), then you have a valid argument. If going to the professor doesn't do anything, and this project is a large chunk of the grade (I'd say 10% or above), go to the Asst. Dean; the administration is usually on your side. I think most administrators carry a little bit of a grudge toward faculty (at least they do at my school), which can work in your favor.

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I hate working in groups at school.
I hate assigning students to work in groups. However, they seem to like it so much that if you don't do it, you get nailed on the evaluations. In one class, it's a simple matter of sparse resources so they have to work in a group or cough up an additional $170 a quarter. For the other class, the smart ones learn something additional, namely how to teach a less-clever student. I cannot imagine giving a collective grade to every person in the group, rather than grading each person on the basis of what they turn in. You can sometime talk to the teacher privately and ask if you can form a "group of one", if the alternative is to be lumped together with idiots. Or, you can strictly divide the jobs, and make sure that what you do doesn't depend on some other student having performed first. For example, suppose there are steps of getting raw data, performing an analysis, and writing it up. Be in charge of the raw data, and do a good job on the raw data. If the others don't do the analysis or writeup, maybe you will suffer but it you make it obvious that the reason is that you were grouped with a bunch of wankers, the teacher might have mercy.
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Question is: In the future, how can I work in groups effectively without having to do all the work? Am I supposed to recheck everyone's work to see if it is the correct information? I don't really want to do 3x the work if I don't have to. I am at a loss.

I also have lots of trouble with group work. I seem to be consistently placed in groups of people with a serious lack of both motivation and competence.

I'm assuming here that everyone will get the same grade, and this is made clear at the beginning of the assignment, in which case appealing to the instructor is useless.

For small assignments, just do all the work. For lengthy projects, you're better off trying to get the team to function together. You have to play the role of manager: try to figure out everyone's abilities, and assign parts of the project accordingly.

Sometimes, you HAVE to check everyone's work. I'm manager of my senior design project in engineering, and we just had a design review with our sponsor and our instructor. One person's PowerPoint slides had information that was clearly wrong. It was very embarrassing for me. I don't think that person even noticed the disapproving remarks of our sponsor. It was my fault for not checking ahead of time. If you're the group leader because you're the most competent, then you have to take the extra responsibility.

The upside is that, as manager, you learn a lot more, and it will serve you well in industry.

Edited by xavier
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My Art History teacher assigned the class a project to work on and she also assigned the groups we'd be working in. I was assigned the group leader to two non-motivated and not-too smart kids.

Whether in school or at work, if I received this assignment (and asked ahead of time how grades would be assigned), then I would face these choices:

1. Do exactly as instructed, including taking full responsibility for my group -- even if that means doing all the work.

2. Do exactly as instructed, including taking full responsibility for my group -- but without doing all the work -- and then plan to protest the result (which I knew ahead of time because I asked how grading would be done).

3. Ignore the assignment (to be group leader) and do the project my own way, ignoring the others -- and take the consequences, whatever they might be.

4. Quit the job or class (or school).

Any one of these options has advantages and disadvantages. Only you can answer because only you know your central purpose in life and your plan for achieving it.

Based on my experience (at age 61), I would do step 1. It could, long-term, be one of the more important social lessons in my life, especially if I intended to go into business or any activity that requires working closely with others in a hierarchical situation. The lesson includes such points as:

- Usually one or only a few individuals carry most of the work. (Sound familiar?)

- Leaders are responsible for the performance (but not all behavior) of their group as a group (that is, as a unit of production).

- In business, hiring and performance review standards must be high and ruthless; likewise in school, admission and grading standards must be high and just (recognizing the nature of each person's actual performance).

- Excellent leaders -- given enough time -- can turn low performers into higher performers generally, though some individuals will always be losers and should be fired or flunked and not allowed to advance in school.

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Great advice from all. This is more of a footnote.

Will you be in the same group for every such assignment, or will the groups change? The more permanent the group, the more it makes sense to see if you can get the other kids to contribute in some way.

Also, kids vary. "Demotivated" could range from "a little motivation will get him going" to "it is a waste of time trying to change him". So, factor that in.

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I hate working in groups at school.

I have classes that are of mixed abilities, from the non-motivated and not so smart kids to extremely motivated kids such as myself. My Art History teacher assigned the class a project to work on and she also assigned the groups we'd be working in. I was assigned the group leader to two non-motivated and not-too smart kids.

I finished my half of the powerpoint presentation. One kid didn't do anything and the other kid filled his slides with false information. I thought the teacher would grade us according to what each of us did, but she didn't. We all got the same grade: 75.

I know I would do much better than a 75 if I had worked alone as I HAD a 95 average in the class until the presentation. When the teacher talked to us about the presentation, she used the other kid's slides as examples of poor content, etc. Mine were fine.

Question is: In the future, how can I work in groups effectively without having to do all the work? Am I supposed to recheck everyone's work to see if it is the correct information? I don't really want to do 3x the work if I don't have to. I am at a loss.

I would fight it non stop till I got a fair resolution. First I would talk to the teacher and explain why it is unfair and see if she agree's or not and why not. If that doesn't work I would go to a guidance counseler or it's equivilent, if that still doesn't work I would request a meeting with whoever is next in the chain of command. If they refused to meet I would write a letter a day to them till it gets resolved. I had to do this numerous times in high school for a variety of issues (such as an entire class getting detention because of a few kids causing trouble which I was not one of). I have found that just arguing rationally with them is usually enough. Sometimes it's not though so then I just tried to annoy them till they gave in.

On a couple issues I went to the Parent Teacher Conference about a situation very similar to yours and told all the parents about my issue and how it is probably hurting thier kids too, after that they were upset and took up the fight for me.

Same thing with college, except it's more difficult. When the professor gave me an unfair grade I took it up with the head of the department, with ample evidence to show what type of student I was. Usually they relented only twice did I have to go to the dean (it was a small college) but I got it fixed.

Never give up I say, unless it benefits you more that way. FIGHT THE POWER!!! lol

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...I have classes that are of mixed abilities, from the non-motivated and not so smart kids to extremely motivated kids such as myself. My Art History teacher assigned the class a project to work on and she also assigned the groups we'd be working in. I was assigned the group leader to two non-motivated and not-too smart kids.
Oh, I hate it when they do that. It's one thing to make you work in groups, but then they have to pick the groups as well... Usually, when I complained about that, I got a line how "you won't be able to choose who you work with in real life." To which I say, I will if I'm the boss. However... :P

I finished my half of the powerpoint presentation. One kid didn't do anything and the other kid filled his slides with false information. I thought the teacher would grade us according to what each of us did, but she didn't. We all got the same grade: 75.
That seems odd to me. In my expreience, teacher's usually have some sort of "system" to deal with slackers. Types of things I have encountered:

1. The teacher would reassign any reported "slackers" into a group by themselves.

2. Each person would receive a group grade and an individual grade to balance it out.

3. Each person would receive a group grade and an individual grade which was determined by evaluations from the other members of the group. (Personally I like this method, because then you have a chance to make sure a person who doesn't do anything loses points because of it.)

Question is: In the future, how can I work in groups effectively without having to do all the work? Am I supposed to recheck everyone's work to see if it is the correct information? I don't really want to do 3x the work if I don't have to. I am at a loss.
I would talk to the teacher and see if she is willing to change the way she grades these projects. If not, then you will probably end up doing all the work if you're stuck with idiots again. I've found that it is usually more work to try and get people who don't care to do the work than it is to just do it yourself.
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I am a senior in high school now, and I must say that at this stage working in groups is not so bad anymore. Everyone in my classes is university-bound and intelligent enough to do a good job on their part of the project. But I have bad memories of group work in the first two years of high school.

When I am in a group, I take the lead from the start. That way I can have creative control and logically divide up the work (I do this fairly equally, but with an eye to ability). Nobody protests because they know that they will also get a better mark with me in control. Generally, my teachers will mark a group collectively, but include an individual peer evaluation and provide a way out if you are stuck with dead weight.

Finally, I want to warn against doing all the work. On one occasion in grade 10 I took this approach (I was saddled with three morons who actually had small parts but did not do them), and I ended up being accused of plagiarism (i.e. allowing them to plagiarise me) and almost had to do another assignment to make up for it if it were not for parental intervention. If I were in such a situation again, I would go to the teacher and ask for a way out (e.g. individual marking, individual work, etc). There is no way they could refuse, and if they did you could kick up enough of a fuss with their superiors that they would be forced to in the end.

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I had to work in an assigned group for an online Communications class recently, and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. Some of the things that the instructor did really helped, such as:

All the objectives and assignments for the entire class were outlined well in advance: you knew the date the final project was due on the first day of class.

For each assignment, we had to submit a group accountability sheet detailing, among other things, who did what. There was no group grade for anything: everyone got an individual grade based on the group product.

Also, because it was online, we could make our contributitions to the project when it suited us best, so it worked out pretty well. My group was all ladies (an accident, the class was over 50% women) and the first thing that we did was to assign one person to "write up" each project. It worked great . . . for 3/4 of the projects all you had to do was, essentially, express an opinion and back it up with your reasoning, read what everyone else said, then "vote" for which path to pursue.

It was immediately obvious that I was the most creative (in the "produce many ideas, a lot of which are probably junk" sense) person in the group, so I'd usually start out our projects with a huge list of brainstorming ideas, the other group members would select the one they liked the best and develop it, and voila, our project was done.

My previous working-in-groups experiences were not so benevolent, however, and when the class started I was terribly depressed by the whole idea. Comparing my previous experiences with this one, the only distinction between them was that I decided I was going to pass the class. If it meant getting along with some people I didn't know, I was going to do that, too. So I immediately jumped in and started being friendly and making introductions and taking an interest, and it made a HUGE difference. The week I got sick they still put me down as contributing even though my sole comment was to offer a name for the product we were trying to market.

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