In the classroom, nothing creates a stronger reaction amongst high school students than hearing a teacher announce, “Today we’re going to begin a group project.” Dreaded by some and loved by others, group projects are a rite of passage for high school students in practically all subject matter, including English, foreign languages, history, and the sciences. But what makes students so opinionated over group projects?
Of more than 100 students surveyed, 54% expressed a dislike for group projects, with most agreeing it wasn’t the project itself they disliked, but rather, finding the time outside school to work on a project together. “Coordinating my schedule with that of others is usually harder than doing all the work myself,” explained senior Julia Frothingham.
Other students interviewed expressed their dislike of group projects as a result of being paired with an abrasive personality type – especially the micromanagers who don’t want to listen to the ideas of others or those can’t delegate work. “Sometimes people in groups don’t let you express your ideas because they think theirs are better,” volunteered junior Jeremy Haney.
In contrast, some who disliked group projects explained they have a hard time watching others fail to pull their weight or refuse to put in equal time and effort, resulting in an unfair grade distribution. “Group projects lead to a small handful of students contributing the majority of work, while others who don’t do the work benefit,” explained a sophomore, who asked not to be identified by name. Another unnamed student, a self-described leader, added that he felt obligated to carry people, even if they didn’t contribute to the overall workload of a group project.
But what about students who like group projects? “I love the support and team effort,” Kaylani Lopez volunteered, who was one of 46% of students who likes group projects. Junior Claire Dupuy felt similarly, sharing, “I like working with others to see new learning styles.” Claire isn’t alone. The majority of students who favor group projects agreed that meeting new people and discovering different learning styles was a benefit.
Yet some had other reasons for enjoying group projects. A freshman, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that group projects held him more accountable, and he often contributed higher quality work when being paired with others as compared to the work he submitted on his own.
With the student poll split nearly down the middle between those favoring and disliking group projects, why do teachers assign group projects? “When students share their ideas with one another, it commonly results in higher level learning,” shared Ms. Egan. Mr. Goranson further explained, “It’s far more entertaining for students to learn from each other than to hear me lecture.”
While it’s widely recognized by teachers and students alike that group projects require more effort than individual projects, group projects will forever have a place in the high school curriculum. They not only help students develop stronger communication skills, but they also provide students the opportunity to work together effectively in heterogeneous groups, similar to what will one day be found in the workforce, no matter what field one pursues.