Group Projects: They’re Not Actually Helpful

Teachers often put students in groups to complete an assignment with the intention of lightening the workload, but more often than not this is not the case.

Emily Cardinal, Staff Writer

Carnegie Mellon University claims that, “If structured well, group projects can promote Intellectual and social skills and help to prepare students for a work world in which teamwork and collaboration are increasingly the norm.” The most important word stated is “if”. Group projects are too often glorified for teaching student skills they can use in their future jobs: there are many downsides to these projects that can hinder students more than help them. Teachers need to be aware of the possible downsides and impacts group projects have on their students. The best choice may be to allow independent work. Group projects are abysmal because there is an unequal distribution of work, some use work time for other things, and it adds stress.

Group projects are often spoken of in a good light because, in theory, it should lower a student’s workload. This isn’t always true and can lead to an unequal distribution of work. Inner Drive states that “it’s common to find 1-2 students taking the bulk of the workload,” while the other students in the group don’t contribute as they should. Some students then get free time while other students struggle with the bulk of the work. It’s not only unfair to the students with the work, but also infuriating. The individuals with the work end up doing everything themselves, then they “just give their peers the answer without explaining how they worked it out.” There is no benefit to either of the students in this scenario. They weren’t relying on one another or using each other as a helping hand. The result was a student doing the work of two, and both getting the credit for it.

While some students do all the work, other students who aren’t contributing have time to slack off. Inner Drive also states that the time for said group project is used by some “to gossip, do other tasks, or loaf around.” It is hard to regulate what every student is doing the entire period, and even supervising students to make sure they do the work may not be enough. If a student doesn’t want to do the work when not being watched, they may not have an issue not doing the work while the teacher is.

The Daily Texan mentions how students’ mental health can hinder the quality of their work. “Forty-one percent of college students have been reported to have anxiety.” Anxiety is common throughout both college and high school students. Group projects add to the students’ anxiety because they are working with people they don’t know and have a difficult time communicating. Even if the students know each other, they may not typically talk. Communication is hard among friends, even harder among strangers. The stress that comes with anxiety while working on a group project can affect the quality and amount of work a student produces, hurting their grade and their partners’.

Despite the many downsides to group projects, if used correctly, students can benefit from group projects. Carnegie Mellon University lists some of the reasons group projects can be beneficial to students by pointing out the fact that there are several minds (therefore more knowledge) working together, communication practice, and time management skills gained. Students working together can cause them to be more productive and learn skills to be used later in life. Several opinions can be brought together to find the nest solution or answers needed for assignments while students also learn to communicate with one another effectively. This can be used in their lives as they know and understand how to persuade others or have a civil conversation with them. No matter what field a student plans on going into, knowing how to properly speak with their peers or bosses can make everyone better workers. Not only that but they will understand how to work with other people and assign work. Time management is also an important skill and group projects can show students that other people depend on them for their best work.

The downsides of group projects outweigh the benefits if not done correctly. Group projects should be frowned upon more often, as it induces anxiety and can be harmful to students. Though, as state previously, if a teacher believes they can correctly assign group projects; then they should.