Whether in a classroom, workplace or community setting, people must learn to work together. Many people prefer to work alone, rather than be forced to depend on others for their success. I, however, am not one of those people.
When a teacher instructs a class to split up into groups, I am immediately excited. I love being able to bounce ideas off of others and learn from their opinions, as well as maybe get into a little off-topic chitchat. I personally believe that the best learning stems from reworking and evaluating ideas, and what better way to do so than with a discussion within a group?
Although group projects are usually my favorite way to work, in some circumstances they can fill me with dread. There are few things worse than when a teacher announces, "You will be doing a group project." and follows a few seconds later with, "I have already selected your groups for you." Nothing compares to the suspense as a teacher reads down the list of groups and you anxiously listen for your name. Of course, I will occasionally get put into a group with awesome people, but this is normally not the case.
When it comes to pre-selected groups, I tend to not have the best luck. It seems I usually end up stuck with slackers, sleepers or students who simply do not care. Everyone knows that student who, when put in a group for a project, offers to take the project home and finish it when the work has not been completed in class. In nine out of 10 these situations, I am that student.
I struggle with leaving my grade in the hands of someone else in any situation, let alone with someone who does not care about their own grade. More often then not, I try to sit back for a few minutes when the group first comes together to see if anyone else has any ideas. When this fails, as it often does, I try to get the discussion going a bit to see if we could brainstorm ideas. If this step also fails, the voice in my head lets out a huge sigh as I realize most of the work is going to be added to my plate.
Although I absolutely detest working in pre-selected groups for projects, as I said before, I love group projects in general. The moment a teacher brings up a group project, I lock eyes with my nearest friend, and then another, and within a few seconds my group has silently been decided.
After the class breaks into groups, the discussion initially starts off with something related to the project, turns into idle small talk, and eventually trails off to a conversation about something we saw on TV the night before. While I do enjoy the academic talk to an extent, my favorite part is catching up with friends, only to realize we got very little accomplished. This normally results in a group text message or phone call later that night attempting to make up for lost time.
Regardless of whether I get stuck working in a group of people I would not have chosen myself or end up with some of my best friends, I still enjoy group work. From making memories with friends because of a hilarious joke during off-topic conversations to the late-night discussions that feel more like meeting of Procrastinators Anonymous, group work is by far my favorite way to learn.