By Kaylie-Ann Flannigan
Teachers always insist that we make an effort to learn in new and exciting ways. They often go back and forth between papers and projects (if you don’t have a science major).
It seems as though teachers think that working in groups will ease the burden of the projects, which is generally a lie.
Let’s be clear: groups of two can be pleasurable, since usually there is enough room for accountability on both sides in order to get the job done. Usually when projects and presentations start to be divided into groups of three or four, the entire project starts rolling downhill.
In my collective experience working in groups, I have seen this dynamic. Usually when there are groups of three and four, there are maybe one or two people who are actually doing the bulk of the work, and then there are one or two “floaters” or “distractors.”
The most ideal group is one that consists of two people; that seems to be the only way it works.
These “floaters” are soul suckers. They leech off of the group and do not really ever do anything. They may perform “fluff” work, which is anything from simply doing citations to finding really easy things on the Internet.
Another horrible member of the group is the “distractor.” This is the person who wants to show everyone photos of puppies or a weird YouTube video that they recently discovered on the Internet while baking vegan cakes.
Any member in the group who actually cares about the content of the presentation and their grade should fear the floaters as well as the distractors. They probably do not really care about either the class or their grade in general, (they may even be taking it as pass/fail). And depending on how passive the people actually doing working are, the floater may even get away with sucking souls and stealing credit.
Groups of two tend to be more pleasant. Usually the other member of the group does not want to let the other down. Also, it is much easier to schedule times to meet since you only have to deal with two schedules. You can share the work equally because cutting things in half is so much easier than cutting them into thirds of fourths (think about a cake or a pizza).
I recently worked in a group of two and it was wonderful. We were both accountable and had a great time, although I felt that she wrote a lot more than me because she is an amazing writer and just so much more organized. The group of two can really rock and work and help both people excel.
Teachers should really learn that groups larger than two could be a lot more stressful than intended, with a whole new psychological angle attached to the project. There is a high level of unnecessary stress attached to these projects, and I think we would all be happy without.