Group Work Bad for the Buck

If I’m paying for it, each class session should be informative and stimulating, not a time when we’re portioned into teams to solve problems as a group.

I’m not a fan of the price tag on group work. If it’s supplementary to the lecture and meant to be done out of class, that’s okay. It almost seems like part of the homework. But when actual class lecture time is taken up to develop ideas as a group, that’s a misuse of my $316 per credit hour and a cop out by the instructor.

I’m paying a premium price to receive premium information from someone with extra letters at the end of his or her name from an advanced degree. I’m interested in hearing what a person with decades of experience in the industry has to say about a case study, not what the people who have taken all of the same pre-requisites sitting next to me feel is correct.

The common idea among some faculty members is that students learn better from their peers than from the endless display of PowerPoint slides. That could be true. But, if that is the case, then the class shouldn’t be pushing a $1,000 tab. I’ll spend $50, the cost of a few rounds of drinks for the group, and we’ll learn a lot from one another.

When a professor says those words “group work,” it’s damaging to the ethos of a college. Students begin resenting their classes and become less productive because the nature of group work is that labor is not often evenly spread among the members of the group. With the other demands of a healthy college lifestyle, meeting times can also be difficult to define.

Those times in class dedicated to group work could be better baby sat by a graduate assistant than a tenure track Dr. So and So.

Sure, there is probably some great empirical study that was recently performed stating that students who are forced to work in groups in classes are more likely to retain knowledge or perform better on exams, but students should be striving to be successful, regardless of the number of team members they have.

When higher education became a machine for pumping out degrees, it neglected to recognize that the quality of the education they provide by challenging students and putting those doctorate degrees to good use in the classroom is more important than the quantity of graduates with passing marks.