I hate group projects. I know you’re not supposed to say that in public, because some future employer or professor might hear you and get offended. But it’s true! Writing collaborative papers for a final grade is annoying, especially when somehow you end up with a C (because if you get four smart people working together, apparently we all miss a rubric point) and a very uncommunicative professor. It’s also annoying when you’re the only one done with exams and so you’re left to hound said professor about a quick rewrite before grades are due.
But. I’m more relaxed about the whole situation than I expected because I suddenly think I understand why it is that I hate working in groups (especially if we all have to write a paper). As my psychologist of a sister says, “You are the quintessential type A”. I’d have to reluctantly agree with her (my blood type IS A+, after all), and say that it’s my personality that makes it so difficult to work in groups. My group members weren’t just to blame – I was contributing to all the horrible group dynamics I’ve experienced over the years. This realization, although it may seem obvious to you non-type-A-types, was an epiphany to me. And I had this revelation because that project we all got a C on? There was an even more type-A person than me in the group (we’ll call her A. Archetypal). And she was great to work with because you only had to suggest something and she would drop everything and facilitate whatever you needed. Until (and here comes the drama…)
Until that last paper we had to write. We had agreed that we would turn in the paper pretty close to its deadline, since we all were focused on other exams. We all had a copy of the rubric of the paper, but didn’t really split up the paper. We figured we would work on two rubric parts each and then revise it together. Well, I wrote my two rubric parts early and then studied for exams for a couple days. It turns out that A. Archetypal, though, had freaked out about getting the paper done on time (understandable, since it *was* a final paper) and wrote four rubric points. Then the day before the paper was due and without warning, she sent an email to the professor saying that me and her were the only ones working on the paper, which was untrue. Yeah, cleaning up after that was delightful. And we still got a C, because in the inevitable drama that followed (the professor gave the other group members a zero for the final paper until we could account for everyone’s contribution), we forgot about that rubric point.
Which really impressed on me that trying to do everything preemptively and on your own is a dumb idea. Understandable, but dumb. And that’s why I still hate group projects, but have come to a better understanding of why they’re so horrible (sorry, Sweetland Professors reading this!).
PSA: Group work sucks, but communicate with your group. They usually want to help, if you’ll let them.