Headache for everyone?

Allison Smith

Ayat Shendy from Cuyahoga Falls High School, Sherif Elmahdy, Ola Hassanein and Fatima Shendy of Kent State University study together on the seventh floor of the library Monday afternoon. “Studying with friends helps because they can encourage you,” Hassan

Credit: DKS Editors

The first day back after spring break, Brittany Moore wrote on the white board outside her door, “GROUP PROJECTS SUCK!!” in large bold letters.

Before break, the junior computer animation major was supposed to do an online project with a group of students in her class. She said they weren’t officially in their groups until the Thursday before break, and it was due the day they came back.

“We could never get in contact with our groups because it was all online,” Moore said. “I never even got in contact with one of my teammates.”

Many students agree group work is not the best part of college.

Frustrated with a group project?

Here are some tips:

&bull Get to know your group.

&bull Learn about the strengths of your group.

&bull Actively participate.

&bull Don’t monopolize the group discussion.

&bull Be respectful of each other.

&bull Set a clear timeline for completion of the tasks, and allow enough time.

&bull Practice as a group.

&bull Understand group projects provide practice for the real world.

Kathleen Walker, assistant professor of family and consumer studies.

“I don’t like it,” said Heather Knable, a computer information systems graduate student. “It’s nice to brainstorm things together, but it’s very hard, you know; everybody works and has different schedules, so it’s hard to get together.”

Despite the disdain some students hold toward group work, there are ways to make the best of it.

“Meet in person a lot,” Moore said. “The less you meet in person, the less you feel like you don’t really know what you’re doing.”

Moore also suggests students can make the best out of group work by delegating tasks.

“Make sure you don’t just take everything on yourself, even though it’s scary to count on other people.” Moore said.

As much as some students dislike working together in groups, Virginia Darrah, a math professor at Kent State, has a system for assigning group work to help provide a good experience.

“I make everybody do their own individual papers,” Darrah said. “And I will tell them that I’m going to be grading the work of everybody.”

She then grades one paper from each group, which makes the students pay attention to what everyone in their group is doing.

“I’ve heard them, over each other’s shoulder, ‘no, no, you’ve gotta subtract those sides,'” Darrah said. “Because they know their grade is imminent on this person getting that problem correct, so they actually want to check each other’s papers.”

Students can also make the best out of group work by seeing the benefits of it.

“I use group work in class,” said Jackie Semporé, a French instructor. “And maybe for a language class, I think group work is really beneficial to some extent.”

There is also a benefit for the instructor because grading group work is less time consuming, Semporé said.

“You get a lot of input,” she said. “You get a lot of work done within a short period of time. And also it helps to boost the level of participation. And, in addition, it also helps to build up a teamwork atmosphere in the classroom.”

Darah said there is also an advantage to group work in the mathematics classroom.

“The biggest benefit is it gets students to speak mathematics,” Darrah said. “I walk around when they’re in groups, I walk around and listen to what they’re saying. And when they start speaking mathematically to each other, I see a benefit to the person.”

Barbara Hugenberg is an assistant professor of communication studies and teaches an online class. She says she sees more of a benefit in online group work than face to face.

“A lot of students are very uncomfortable contributing their ideas in person, in a face-to-face environment,” Hugenberg said. “In an online environment it seems like they’re a little bit more emboldened to forward their ideas because it’s easier to sort of write things and hit the send button sometimes than it is to say things face-to-face in a group.”

In regards to making the best out of group work, Hugenberg believes above all you need to show up.

“Whether it’s in person or online, it kind of comes down to the same thing: Being there is half the battle,” she said.

Contact news correspondent Allison Smith at [email protected].