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Group Work Watch

  • View Poll Results: Do you enjoy group work?
    Yes
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    14.81%
    No
    23
    85.19%

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    I hate it. People have a habit of waiting for the last minute, the group never meets up, nothing gets done, one guy says he'll do most of the work and then doesn't. Worst part of studying a degree is the group projects imo.
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    Unfortunately, working as part of a team is a skill which employers look for - very few new employees will work on their own. When my uni carried out an industry survey on how to make graduates more employable this was cited as a particular shortcoming, so the uni is implementing even more group-based coursework. A new building opened last year has more "collaborative study spaces" than lecture or seminar rooms.

    But yes, group work sucks. I was headed for a First and where groups were put together by staff, I always got lumbered with those who needed their percentages boosted - mainly because they never did any work and it was realised that I'd take on extra in order to maintain my averages.
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    Can't stand group work. I have no problem working with people that pull their weight but I refuse to allow someone to piggyback and get free grades from me.

    Teamwork in employability is a completely different kettle of fish and odds are everyone will get on with stuff at work. The same can't be said for uni students (especially first years) who don't give a damn
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    (Original post by Acsel)
    Can't stand group work. I have no problem working with people that pull their weight but I refuse to allow someone to piggyback and get free grades from me.

    Teamwork in employability is a completely different kettle of fish and odds are everyone will get on with stuff at work. The same can't be said for uni students (especially first years) who don't give a damn
    Took the words right out of my mouth. My issue with group work isn't the 'group' part, I work in a team at work on a regular basis. The problem is that uni group work is just not comparable to real life work.

    I know no one asked for this, but it seems like the perfect place to get my group work pet peeves down (especially because I've just found out that I've got two bits of group work this semester that count towards my final degree).

    Pet peeves
    - Being grouped with people who have either a completely different academic ability, attitude or both. In my line of work, the professional body requires a minimum level of competence before admittance, therefore everyone is at least on the same level (although this is arguably true for uni with minimum grade requirements, it is quite clear that my course has people with drastically different abilities). Yes, people may be difficult or may make errors, but generally people all know what they are doing and all have an interest in the end result. This isn't the same in uni. I get straight firsts, work two part time jobs, volunteer, take part in sports etc. I am a proactive person. Nothing bugs me more than being lumped with people who are on track for a third, don't care about their crap grades, don't do anything outside of uni and therefore have all the time in the world and then still leave me to do it all.

    - The uni KNOWS that good students are exploited (and often disadvantaged) in group work and poor students are the only ones who gain from it. Good students are stuck between rock and a hard place. On one hand, no one wants to be the pushover that does all of the work when no one else has pulled their weight. On the other hand, there is a completed assignment that must be submitted and if it isn't completed to a certain standard, the good student will get a poor grade as well as everyone else, so they end up doing all of it in order to maintain their grade average whilst everyone else gets a boost. My uni doesn't grade each individual in the group separately (like at some unis), and they also don't allow for any complaints of slacking to be made. You just have to put up with your group.

    - Uni group work and real life group work are totally different in terms of scheduling. At uni, you put a group of 5 people together all with completely different schedules and different working preferences/patterns and expect them to be able to pull a report and presentation out of their backsides. Some people work evenings, some work weekends, some work early mornings, some have children, yadda yadda yadda. You end up having a Wednesday 11pm meeting in the library in order to fit in with everyone's schedule and get any sort of idea of what you're doing as a group (that's even if people reply to messages about meetings!). In a work situation, you all already work together. You all have set working hours where you know you're all going to be in the same place anyway, it's far easier to co-ordinate working with a team of people that you work with regularly anyway, than it is to co-ordinate completing a project with people who are on a completely different schedule to you.

    My theory is that group work isn't done to benefit people in terms of employability, because it is so drastically different from real life team work that it isn't really useful (and most people have had a job where they have had to work in a team anyway). Rather, I think it's a way of unis boosting their results. If you have group work worth 20% of a course and you split the groups up so that there are high performing students in each group, you mitigate the chances of having low results for any groups. Then someone who is generally getting thirds and 2:2s has 20% of their grade at a 2:1 or first, which boosts the overall grade of the poorer performing students which in turn, boosts the grade statistics for that course, which benefits the staff.

    I realise I sound terrible, but at the end of the day, what someone else does at work doesn't affect my salary. However, what someone else does in uni group work affects my grade, and there is no way in hell I allow anyone to bring my grades down when I've worked so hard.
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    The group coursework I've done is structured in a way its easy just to assign tasks so what happens is that everyone does their bit independently and copies it over at the end so it might as well be independent.
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    None of my summative assignments are group projects, however a lot of formative assignments are- I really enjoy them but that may be because the majority of them are ones where we pick our own groups.
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    If you are a committed student, there are two approaches you can take with group work:
    Let the group drag you down.
    You can pull the group up.

    You have to pull the group up. This will likely involve you whipping people into action and/or doing a disproportionate amount of work yourself (I've did an entire group project by myself on two occasions). As much as you may think this is unfair, the alternative will cost you marks.
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    I quite like it, but the people at my uni in general are pretty sound so there's few problems with scheduling and stuff like that. However the variety of people and group work topics means it's not uncommon for one or two people in the group to have a very strong background in the given subject which makes it difficult to distribute work evenly.
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    Well, I always disliked group work but it was good for me as a very shy person with anxiety. Though at my uni group work would consist of planning a project together, doing a group presentation and handing in an individual report (that couldn't be done with group members). While the group parts were compulsory (i.e. if you didn't take part in the presentation you failed) our grade was based solely on the report which meant hard-workers did better than slackers even in the same group.

    I do think assigned groups are best because you don't get to choose who you work with in life and students with certain disabilities (specifically learning and mental health difficulties as these often affect social skills) or chronic shyness, who benefit most from group work IMO, will likely be excluded from the most cohesive groups (as they are less likely to have friends in a specific module). I think this is an unfair disadvantage for the people who really need to do group work.
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    tbh it depends on the people in the group
    some get on with the work like that *clicks my fingers* but others take their sweetass time and that's what puts me off, especially when they either don't participate at all and make you do everything or those who change the subject and go waaayyyy out of topic
    it makes me go hjfsdkfasdfhjkfkaskfajkg
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    Group work reduces the marking & saves time for the uni staff - they can observe & mark 4 x group presentations instead of 15+ individual presentations.

    Lazy people don't have to pull their weight when they're in a group. The high achievers have to pull them up or risk failing themselves. Sucks.

    Can be great if everyone in the group is enthusiastic and work hard. I'm not bothered about different abilities, as long they have this.
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    (Original post by Acsel)
    Teamwork in employability is a completely different kettle of fish and odds are everyone will get on with stuff at work.
    I spent 20+ years in the IT industry with seven different employers. Trust me - learning how to carry dead weight whilst meeting a deadline is a very useful and transferrable skill.

    The same can't be said for uni students (especially first years) who don't give a damn
    Bit of an over-generalisation, as evidenced by the students posting here who clearly do give a significant damn.
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    (Original post by Klix88)
    I spent 20+ years in the IT industry with seven different employers. Trust me - learning how to carry dead weight whilst meeting a deadline is a very useful and transferrable skill.


    Bit of an over-generalisation, as evidenced by the students posting here who clearly do give a significant damn.
    And I've worked with people personally where I've been in the same position. I regularly had to make up for others at work who didn't pull their weight. Doesn't make it the same as being at university. I'm not saying the skill isn't transferable. I'm saying there are different factors to consider.

    If nothing else when you have a colleague who isn't pulling their weight you can discuss it with your employer and something might get done. At university you're just expected to deal with it. An employer shouldn't be too happy about an employee who is getting a pay cheque for nothing. Universities on the other hand are quite happy to use good students to prop up bad students.

    It wasn't a generalisation. The vast majority of first year uni students aren't overly concerned with their grades because they simply don't matter. But the key thing is the ones posting here aren't the ones avoiding work. The people posting here obviously are the ones that give a damn because we are being forced to ensure the ones that don't give a damn still pass.
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    Last time I enjoyed group work was only because one of the guys just payed someone else to do the work. All we did was research and play GTA until 9PM.

    Really dislike the fact that teachers don't consider how far away we live. A small group of students live near school, and the rest live an hour+ away. Group projects are usually done at one persons house, with no consideration for people with tight schedules/that live far away. Groups either have too many "leader" types and can't decide on the simplest things, or too many people who sit back and put zero effort into projects. Plus we have to drive around town looking for the most ridiculous things. We had to buy cockroach eggs...for my sisters project....She's in Primary School. TF you do find those???
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    (Original post by Acsel)
    If nothing else when you have a colleague who isn't pulling their weight you can discuss it with your employer and something might get done. At university you're just expected to deal with it. An employer shouldn't be too happy about an employee who is getting a pay cheque for nothing.
    Generally, you're speaking to the manager who recruited the slacker. One thing I've learned is that managers tend not to like admitting that they recruited the wrong person. I've never managed to get anything out of raising these issues, other than the vague accusation that the team were to blame in some way. It's all a matter of ego and how a manager looks to those immediately above them in the heirarchy. Paying an employee for doing very little, is infinitely preferable to killing off your promotion prospects.

    Universities on the other hand are quite happy to use good students to prop up bad students.
    Absolutely, and my employers have done the same. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to sack someone for being lazy. The legal and disciplinary procedure hoops are horrendous and most managers avoid it like the plague. The last person I knew who was done for incompetence and a blatant failure to work anywhere near their contracted hours, it took 18 months, three internal hearings, HR, the Legal department and an internal appeal before they went. Even then, they were eventually persuaded to leave of their own accord and resign, rather than actually being sacked. Of course, an occasional round of redundancies will come in handy...
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    (Original post by Mistletoe)
    I hate it. People have a habit of waiting for the last minute, the group never meets up, nothing gets done, one guy says he'll do most of the work and then doesn't. Worst part of studying a degree is the group projects imo.
    Sensible unis have a component of the mark which is awarded by the group so that people can't get away with doing nothing. If your uni doesn't do this then talk to the course rep.

    Group work is a skill many jobs look for ...
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    (Original post by Klix88)
    Generally, you're speaking to the manager who recruited the slacker. One thing I've learned is that managers tend not to like admitting that they recruited the wrong person. I've never managed to get anything out of raising these issues, other than the vague accusation that the team were to blame in some way. It's all a matter of ego and how a manager looks to those immediately above them in the heirarchy. Paying an employee for doing very little, is infinitely preferable to killing off your promotion prospects.


    Absolutely, and my employers have done the same. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to sack someone for being lazy. The legal and disciplinary procedure hoops are horrendous and most managers avoid it like the plague. The last person I knew who was done for incompetence and a blatant failure to work anywhere near their contracted hours, it took 18 months, three internal hearings, HR, the Legal department and an internal appeal before they went. Even then, they were eventually persuaded to leave of their own accord and resign, rather than actually being sacked. Of course, an occasional round of redundancies will come in handy...
    I've had similar instances but I've also had instances where discussing issues with managers have solved or at least alleviated the issue somewhat.

    The thing is though, university doesn't have these issues. Lecturers don't have to worry about all the overhead associated with disciplinary, legal and so on that managers have to deal with. Students aren't going to be penalised for saying their group isn't pulling their weight, we don't have to worry about promotions and pay. There's really no downside to me complaining that some lazy ass is going to pass their unit because I did all the work. Any downsides aren't nearly as bad as what you've mentioned in the workplace. And yet I've been personally told that except under extreme or extenuating circumstances we'd have to sort it out ourselves. I'm sure many others are in the same situation.

    In both the workplace and university we can do as much as we can. We can say that other people aren't pulling their weight, we can send countless emails asking things to be done and then getting frustrated when the other lazy people don't do them. We can even do all the work ourselves. But in the workplace if you are struggling to get something done because other people aren't pulling their weight you can get help. Any decent manager will do something to sort it out, because if you don't finish on time and it eats into profits then it's their head on the chopping block. You can try as much as possible and seek help when things don't work. University doesn't tend to get so serious but it's not unfair to assume that maybe you won't have time to do the entire groups work by yourself. Unless you have a serious problem though it's up to you to sort out, which probably means doing it all yourself regardless.

    And that's where the big issue lies. Yes, teamwork, collaboration, group work, etc. are important in the work place. But if in a group one person does most of the work then that is not teamwork. That is not a group effort. That is several people leeching off the one that is capable and does the work. And when students see that working, they'll continue it into the workplace. It doesn't teach good teamwork. It teaches the good students to pick up the slack for the bad ones and for the bad ones to not bother in the first place.

    If you want to teach teamwork then don't make it so that good students and poor students can score the same, regardless of how much group work actually occurs. Don't make it so that the people who don't put in group work still pass. Don't penalise the good students when the rest of the group doesn't pull it's weight. Group work puts the most stress on the people who are good at group work because everyone else doesn't participate in the group. It does exactly the opposite of what it should.
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    My experience of the working world is that you will still face the same **** when you graduate. Group work will make people less productive as they spend hours debating stuff which barely matters. You'll spend loads of time communicating to arrange meetings/work/etc. Some people will interfere/take over and others will sit back and do as little as humanly possible. Someone will miss all the deadlines you set for yourself and screw other people over. Someone else will end up having to do extra (and often won't get appropriate credit for it).

    That said, I agree 100%. Group work sucks. I had a horrendous group project - 5 of us and the idea was we all take a section of the prep/research and then write our own report based on 5 data sets. Only two members of the group didn't show up to the entire course. They were allocated their sections of work but never did them. I spoke to the lecturer who refused to allow the rest of us to just do the work so we could complete our report because she insisted she wanted the students to pull their weight but had just as little success as us in getting them to do it. Two days before a 3000 word deadline they finally produced something, only they admitted to doing something which amounted to pretty serious academic misconduct - I went straight to the lecturer (thank god because if she'd spotted it we'd all have been risking being thrown out) and eventually got 24 hours to write up.
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    I hate group work!!! My degree's coursework is like 75% group work and I hate it. Highlights have included one person saying to me "Oh, I never do any referencing I can't be bothered" and another admitting they hadn't even read the assignment brief on the morning before the deadline.
 
 
 
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