Group Projects: The Bane of Our Collective Existence

Douglas Granillo Artiga, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: The following is a satirical piece not intended to offend and does not necessarily reflect the views of Millennium’s faculty or student body.

It’s happened to everyone: you are assigned a group project and you are paired up with a motley crew of ne’erdowells and unreliable types. If you’re like me, you’re not a fan of being paired with 6 random people you don’t even know for an assignment that could have major repercussions on your grade. In my opinion, there are 5 different types of people in group projects:

The Person That Does Absolutely Nothing We all hate this person. They may talk once a while (a really long while) or give their attempt at coming up with a new idea they spent one microsecond thinking about. But they don’t actually do anything. In fact, they exert more effort simulating that they are doing something. This feigned effort can take many forms, but the most common I’ve seen is people appear to “contribute”  to the Google slides or Doc while in reality, they switch between that file and a browser game. As your group member (and someone who has used this tactic myself!), I know what you’re doing. Work on the project! There are two ways it can end: this undeserving person gets a high grade on the project (the most irritating ending) or this slacker is forced to present or comment on the project and they end up absolutely embarrassed (the most satisfying ending, as they got what they deserved). To the do-nothing types out there, I say, WORK ON YOUR PROJECT! It’s not that hard! And if you must be on your phone, find a better way to hide your laziness!

 The Person Who Does All of the Work If you have been one of the unproductive people in a group project (and if you are, please get your act together), you were likely extremely thankful when this person showed up and saved your butt by doing what you should have done–and they did it for free! You should have treated them as the messiah and promised to yourself that you would never be unproductive ever again. But if you yourself have been this person, the Atlas of your group, holding it all together, you can attest to how painful and strenuous it can be to be in this position. I certainly know. You’re looking at the other people on your team and seeing that they are doing little to no work, and you tell them: “Guys! You need to contribute here!” But still, nothing changes. They listen for, like, 2 seconds, and then they go back to doing nothing. After trying to negotiate with them a few times, you quickly realize it’s no use. So you take matters into your own hands, and go do it all yourself. Every time your group meets, you do the work they were supposed to do, essentially unpaid overtime, since you’re doing extra work that you’re not being compensated for. It’s a struggle at times, staying up late to finish the extra work, knowing that you would have been done hours earlier if they had just pulled their weight. After a few days of this, the due date comes around, and when you go up and present your work, they might read some of the presentation (if it’s a slideshow/PowerPoint) or might give comments throughout to make it LOOK like they did something. But you know that they were lazy the whole way through. After the presentation is over, the next person goes and you’re just happy it’s all over. You’re in anticipation of whether the lazy teammates you had got away with it or not.    

The Procrastinator You may very well be this person or know someone who is, and I don’t blame you if you are. Group work can be boring, and it can be enticing to wait a couple of extra days, knowing that doing it right now isn’t necessary. But a few days pass, and you’re (or they’re) up at night frantically trying to finish the work, but it’s hard to work when you’re in such a panic. Depending on how long the assignment is, it might take until 3 or even 4 AM to finish the work. After you finish (hopefully), you feel so exhausted and desperate for sleep that you wish you hadn’t been cocky and thought that you can do it later. You tell yourself: “Never again. Never again”, but like most people I’ve seen, they end up doing it again (and again…)          

The Diplomat This person tries to keep equality and tries to get everyone to do their fair share. You may love them, you may hate them, but in a group project, they are what keeps justice. Everyone has to do their fair share, and no one can do too much or too little (saving the do-it-all some trouble and disconviniencing the do-nothings). They don’t argue with others and are often constructive with their ideas. The do-nothings will be mad with the diplomat for making them do work, but at the end of the day, they’ll feel good that they contributed along with their comrades.

The Quiet One This student has a lot of ideas and often does their work, but they don’t really say much at team meetings and are one of the smaller contributors to the team’s brainstorming. They have great ideas, but are scared of being called off or rejected. Because of this, they feel excluded from the group, and it’s a chicken and egg problem, because when people try to bring them in, they are scared of sharing their ideas, and because they perceive that they don’t want to be listened to, they feel excluded, and it repeats. If you ever have someone like this in your group, encourage them to share their ideas, be more proactive, and participate more, even outside of team meetings.