FaceOff: Assigning group projects fosters resentment, anger among students


Juan Diaz/Hilltop Views

Students shouldn’t have to rely on other students’ ability to complete an assignment. Students should be graded on their individual efforts.

Nothing teaches you patience quite like group projects. Everyone knows the feeling when they’re assigned to their groups: the anxiety of starting, the feeling of knowing you’re the only person who’s going to do any work, and the result being the professor telling everyone in the group they did a great job while you try to smile through gritted teeth. Why do the professors still think this is a good idea?

As someone who has repeatedly struggled through multiple frustrating group projects this semester, I would like to make my case for why this needs to stop. Grouping together strangers and forcing them to work together is a perfect recipe for fostering resentment towards people you know nothing about outside of class.

The only real lesson I’ve learned so far from my experiences is that a surprising amount of students genuinely do not care about their grades, other people, or teamwork. At a certain point, it feels like professors use these projects simply because it’s entertaining to watch people struggle through the humiliation of knowing that they did not do any work on the project.  

To get a better insight, I decided to ask a professor of communication, Dr. Billy Earnest how he felt about group projects.

“I’m a big fan of group work, but only within the context of regular class meetings. That’s strictly how I use it these days,” said Earnest.

He said that when he first started teaching, he assigned long term group projects. However, he quickly learned that assigning them outside of the classroom is asking for trouble.

“Even when I’ve used two-person teams for outside projects, I’ve still ended up with people whining and complaining,” he said. “I lose a significant amount of time just managing group dynamics instead of devoting that time to the assignment itself.”

In science courses, where more brains are always better than one, group projects could benefit students. I know nothing about what it’s like to major in a science and from what I’ve heard the more people involved in troubleshooting problems the better. However, outside this context, individuality creates good responsibility for students to motivate themselves to stop binge-watching Netflix and meet the deadlines.

All in all, group projects don’t make sense. The cons outweigh the pros. At a time when we as a society are questioning what a good education truly is, I think it’s important to truly consider the reality of group projects. They’re stressful and unnecessarily difficult for both teachers and students.