Our Voice: The scariest part about college? Group projects

Upon the start of a new semester, all college students are excited to explore new classes and find new friends. Then, there it is, the dreaded familiar phrase on the syllabus: group project. 

Suddenly, there is the urge to click the “drop class” button and wallow in self-pity. The future dread of having to pull the weight of the group work while conversating with unknown students causes overwhelming amounts of anxiety. The truth of the matter is that a majority of students loathe group work entirely. 

Yadu Baznath, an associate professor at Chapman Learning Commons, performed a study and asked university students their opinions on group work. After reviewing their opinions, he concluded that there were certain reasons university students disliked group work: group members do not contribute equally or do not take the time to show up to meetings, everyone has different schedules/meeting up is difficult and working in a group exacerbates confusion. 

Working in groups more often than not, is way harder than working individually. Even though professors preach that working in groups increases social skills, makes students venture outside of their comfort zones and helps them learn from their peers, it normally has the complete opposite effect. 

To start, students in group projects never do work equally, which can negatively affect individual grades; there is always someone doing more work than the rest of the members in the group. Sometimes, students do not even show up on the day of presentations. 

At Murdoch University of Law, a study was conducted where the university assigned a group project to 120 students. At the end of the study, each student was sent a survey to provide feedback on their group mates work ethic and then they were asked whether or not the group work caused them to receive higher grades than an individual project. Around 75 percent of students said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed. 

Randomized group projects are also a recipe for disaster. When students from different majors are randomized in a group together, this results in people with entirely different skill sets and levels of experience being paired up. Though professors see this as a beneficial thing, this can create more stress than usual. Oh, and if you are working with students who are not humanities majors, good luck trying to communicate with them. 

Professors also tend to neglect the fact that introverts and extroverts often do not work well together in group projects. When placed in a group setting, introverts would rather keep the conversation over text and work on their part of the project themselves. Extroverts, on the other hand, normally prefer collaborating with the entire group in order to finish the project. 

For introverts, this can cause large-scale anxiety/panic attacks due to social anxiety while for extroverts, this can cause frustration. It is normally difficult to find a solution that works for both of these groups of people, which can make tension levels rise within the group. Combined with the fact that extroverts normally have a much easier time presenting in front of peers than introverts, it is a completely unfair situation all around. 

Group work causes nothing more than anxiety filled dread amongst college students every year. Just know if you have been affected by the horrors of group work, the Beacon staff understands your pain.