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FaceOff: Group projects, though troublesome, prepare for real world experience

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FaceOff: Group projects, though troublesome, prepare for real world experience

Students learn how to work collaboratively through group projects. Working collaboratively is an incredibly important life skill to possess.

Students learn how to work collaboratively through group projects. Working collaboratively is an incredibly important life skill to possess.

Ana Flores/Hilltop Views

Students learn how to work collaboratively through group projects. Working collaboratively is an incredibly important life skill to possess.

Ana Flores/Hilltop Views

Ana Flores/Hilltop Views

Students learn how to work collaboratively through group projects. Working collaboratively is an incredibly important life skill to possess.

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Group projects are only ever really great or awful experiences. There is no middle ground. I’ve been in both situations and found that the times I’ve had a good experience with my group outweighs every bad experience I’ve had.

I’d take a group project anyday.

Working with others is an important part of life in general. In the natural sciences, it is especially integral in what we do. Every lab requires you to be in a group.

In the sciences, there is safety in numbers. You aren’t allowed to conduct an experiment without someone with you.

The first semester of freshman biology, I was placed in a group of what became my closest friends. Surprisingly, the CATME survey we have to take every year to form our groups actually worked and I got paired up with some great, hardworking students.

The next semester, I wasn’t so lucky. Of the four people in my group, only two of us did any work.

Honestly, I thought this would bother me, but it didn’t. I got a good grade in that class because by picking up my team members’ slack, I was forced to learn the material.

I then had a completely different kind of experience when I took Calculus I. I was in a group of three and we had two major projects the whole year. The first project, I met with my group mates once and kind of fixed a table of data. That’s it. That was the entirety of my contribution and it felt amazing.

My group members didn’t even contact me about the second project. When I showed up to class, my group let me know that they finished the project and added my name. I felt a little guilty but they assured me that they didn’t mind doing the project themselves.

I never wanted to be that person but at the time, I was struggling with other important matters so having a group to finish the work was reassuring. This kind of thing hasn’t happened again but the impact of it lives with me still.

Some people suck so trusting people is hard. No one wants their grade to depend on people they may or may not know. I understand that mindset but honestly, I realized some time ago that I’m just going to have to get over it.  

Why do we have group projects to begin with? The answer is simple. Life is a group project.

After college, students have to enter the workforce. That’s a big group of people and if one person doesn’t do their job, they get fired.

I keep this scenario in mind when I am forced to work with my peers. In college, students are able to get away with waiting until the day before. Not at a company.

Social skills are important and working in a group is a great way to practise this. We can complain about having to work in a group or suck it up and do the work.

Plus let’s face it, the rest of the world isn’t going anywhere.

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FaceOff: Group projects, though troublesome, prepare for real world experience