The most dreaded days of my college experience thus far have started with the words “Everyone, please find a partner.”
Currently a junior at Ferris, I have encountered numerous professors who feel the need to take a paper or project and split the class into groups of two to three people to complete it. While I understand their intent, group projects end up hurting students more than helping.
Earlier in the fall semester, my professor for an English class mentioned that we’d be writing a five-page paper. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was a paper we’d have to write and present with a partner.
The purpose of the paper was to pick a problem facing our career field and write a briefing on the issue to present to our future boss. What’s the problem with that, you might ask? Well, 75 percent of my classmates are nursing majors, meaning I had to write a briefing on the medical field and not on my career field of journalism.
Another issue was the fact that my partner didn’t think it was necessary for me to have any form of communication with him other than in class.
Long story short, my partner and I were not on the same wavelength, leading to a less than perfect presentation that landed us a “C” grade on the project. The real kicker here is that I did most of the work on the paper, but I received the same grade as my partner, who didn’t contribute as much.
I believe the best way to learn is by giving a project all of your attention. When group projects come about, however, I spend more of my time worrying about what the other members of my group are doing, which doesn’t give me a chance to devote myself fully to what I need to contribute.
So, here’s what I’m proposing: instead of the traditional method of giving partners the same grade, judge each member of the group individually based on what they did on the project.
I don’t want to be the one to say that group projects should be rid of altogether, because they are extremely beneficial and help students prepare for working as part of a team in future careers. If the way group projects are graded doesn’t change, however, they need to be rid of entirely.
No student should have to worry that their grade might suffer because of someone else’s lack of effort.