Post-Thanksgiving (Group) Projects

Hey everyone! I wish I could whole-heartedly say “welcome back,” but I’m with the rest of you- is this semester over yet?! It was nice to get to go home and see my family, and Thanksgiving is definitely the best holiday. Some people say it’s because everyone’s together and giving thanks, I’m going to be honest- SO MUCH FOOD! Really, more than my little mouse heart could ever dream of having at one meal. So now that I’ve been sufficiently fed (and brought back leftovers), we still have two more weeks of classes and then finals? I’m am not on board with that.

Like I said last time, I’m so thrilled that I have to chance to be a student at Towson. But as the semester wraps up, I am reminded of an educational test of my patience that I get roped into every year- group projects. From what I can tell, group projects are to professors as, well, a good wheel of cheddar is to my family at Thanksgiving- thoroughly enjoyable.  But from the outside, nobody else sees it. If you were given a wheel of cheese instead of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce- you’d throw a fit. Which is what every student does when they realize that they’re getting assigned a group project.

And now, in these last few weeks of classes, you’re starting to feel the stress of it. Who really enjoys compiling five students’ work into an executive summary? And sometimes it works out and you get a great group (shout out to my Mouse Communications group!) but usually there’s a challenge that you have to overcome, and usually it’s in human form. Everyone approaches group projects differently, but usually you can gather what kind of group experience you’ll have within the first meeting or so. I’ve noticed just a few different “personality types” and the way that they approach your project and I want to see if you agree…

The Overachiever (a.k.a. The Boss)
This person is getting an A on this project no matter what. They immediately take charge, fully understand exactly what needs to be done, and will even take on a majority of the work just to make sure they keep their GPA up. Look out if you don’t agree on their choice of PowerPoint color scheme- they know what they’re doing and are not very likely to sway on something that they are familiar with. But then you realize: you know what? You kind of want an A on this project too. Maybe you should just listen up.

The Creative One
Many professors find it amusing to slip a line in the rubric similar to this one: Creativity and originality will be worth 10% of your overall grade. And you think to yourself, “I’m not creative, how can you possibly grade us on creativity?!” But there’s someone in the back of the room screaming with joy inside because they know they’re getting every bit of that 10 percent. They know that giving out candy is so cliché, but that costumes, songs, and skits are where it’s at. You might want to steer clear of this person and their lavish ideas, but that 10% could bump your C+ to a B, so it’s worth considering.

The Average Joe
This is most likely you. You approach the group project with a gut feeling of regret, but you know that it must be done. The Boss has already assigned each group member a part, the Creative One has done her magic, and now you just need to fill an empty page with your research on magnetic pole reversal. The Average Joe is just that- average. He’ll comply with whatever everyone else wants to do in order to keep group harmony. And guess what? Everything will get done.

The Slacker
You pray that your professor issues group evaluations just so you can throw this person under the bus. They never show up on time, respond to emails days later (or say they never got them- seriously? Towson’s email isn’t even that bad!), and just generally don’t contribute to the group’s overall efforts. You’ve divided up the sections equally among the group, and when The Slacker finally gets around to sending the section they were working on, you wonder how they even made it into college. Seriously, a third grader wrote that.

The No-Show
Just when you thought The Slacker could be the worst possible group member, you’re proven wrong. Although they reply late and do a horrible job contributing to your project, the No-Show does just that- doesn’t show up. The professor announces a group project in class on day, assigns them to your group, and then the next three weeks they’re M.I.A. You send emails to them, let the professor know about it, but are encouraged to still include them in the presentation. Finally, the week before your project is due, the professor finally lets you know that they’ve withdrawn from the class and you’re out of luck.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of consider myself to be a combination between The Overachiever and the Average Joe. I like to take charge and I definitely want to have a good grade, but it’s very hard to convince other students that a mouse is a great leader. I’m working on it though, Towson’s got some great iL.E.A.D. workshops that I’m trying to learn from!

I want to wish everyone luck with those last couple of weeks (and especially group projects)! One piece of advice that I always stand by and would like to share is proofread all of your work before turning it in! Sometimes pulling an all-nighter can get the best of you and words that don’t fit (or don’t belong at all) find their way into your 30 page paper…

This would be funny if it weren’t real. Professors DO read your papers, silly humans!

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