This past fall semester, I had the displeasure of being in three group projects, meaning three out of the four classes I was taking involved a long-term group project. This was my actual worst nightmare, but had no choice but to go through with everything because I needed these classes for graduation in May.
So, as expected, I had issues with group members in every single one of those said projects. I’m a pretty easy going group member, but once I approached my professor (the ultimate and final option…) with the issues at hand they each assured me my frustration was reasonable. Knowing I wasn’t just a crazy group member, here is how I dealt with the three different kinds of crummy group members I encountered last semester.
The Two BFFs Who Gave Themselves The Easy Tasks
If I had known this was going to be the situation, I would have avoided it from the beginning. I’m always very weary about joining a group project of at least two girls who are already good friends. It’s pretty simple to tell who is friends with who in college classes, who knows people in the class and who doesn’t, who plays sports for the school, etc.
These group members decided to give themselves the least amount of work to do for the first portion of this project that needed to be turned in before midterms. (Keep in mind this project is in total 75% of our final grade, ok.) When myself and this other group member approached the two girls asking if they could help us out with our portion since it was so dense, they felt like they had already done enough work already.
Knowing this project was worth such a large amount of my final grade, I consulted with my other group member and we talked to the teacher about what was going on within our group quickly after class one day. She assured us that we were not overreacting, and to give her as much information as possible and rate them accordingly on a scale of one to ten in this peer review sheet to be turned in with the first portion of the project. I did so, which ended up giving them a lower participation grade for the first portion of the project. My professor assured everyone in class who got a lower participation score for this portion to step up their game for the rest of the project, which actually worked for my group members.
Moral of the story: I’ve found it’s a lot easier to work with a group where nobody knows one another and you all just have similar interests. Also, don’t be afraid to approach your professor about a concern you have when your project is worth a large portion of your grade!
The Kid Who Says He’ll Do the Work But Never Does
I think this is the most frustrating one for me, honestly. The worst part about this kind of group member is that they really do make the rest of the team suffer. If a portion of a project was expected to be completed by someone and it’s the morning the project is due and this person still hasn’t done their portion, there’s some big issues. (Emergencies do come up, though so you should still be understanding depending on the situation!)
My first answer to this problem is addressing the person directly. Example A: I actually texted this in the group chat my group had made. After asking this, the response I got was the typical “oh yeah, sorry I’ve just been really busy but I plan on getting to it tonight”. It was never gotten to. After that, I went to my professor and made her aware of the situation. She asked me if I would like her to address my group member and I told her no, that wasn’t necessary. While this group member never really did pick up their slack and it came down to myself and another group member doing his work, when it came time for peer evaluations I gave them the grade I felt they deserved. Since then, I’ve found out they actually received a much lower overall participation grade compared to myself.
Moral of this story: sometimes confronting members yourself won’t even solve the problem, but communicating with your professors about your current situation will help you in the long run.
The Kid Who Just Doesn’t Do Anything…Literally
I never thought I’d see the day where someone in a group project in college just didn’t care, and didn’t do any of the work involved. Well, my college has never failed to surprise me.
The third group project I was in involved about seven other students in the class. We got a ton of time in-class to work on this project, so overall it was easy to work on and get done throughout the semester.
However, we had a group member who just….didn’t complete the portions he said he would. There were three portions of this project, and by the last portion, he wasn’t even putting his own name on Google doc. After our group noticed his incomplete work a few minutes before class started the day that portion was due, we contacted our professor and let him know what was happening. Our professor could also see how this group member would either leave when we were given time in class to work on these projects, or just wouldn’t really contribute during this time, since our classrooms are really small and he stayed the entire time.
Our professor assured us that we would all be fine and to just rate this group member on how we felt he performed. By the last peer evaluation, I was giving him literally 0%.
Moral of this story: professors are always watching and peer evaluations DO matter!!
While group projects are inevitable in college, it’s important to be prepared to deal with any kind of group member possible. Sometimes you’ll be in a great group, where the project won’t even feel like a daunting task! Other times you might be up until 2am finishing the conclusion section of your formal research proposal because your group member who said they’d finish it by 8pm, didn’t. It happens! I’ve found it’s important and VITAL to communicate with your professors if you find yourself in this kind of situation in a group project. More often than not, your professor is going to be really understanding and will probably offer you some sound advice for moving forward in the semester. Hope this helps anyone dealing with group projects! What kind of group members have you guys had to deal with before in your classes? Let me know in the comments!