We’ve all been there: the teacher stands up at the front of the class and says, “I’ve split the class into groups for the upcoming project…” At that point, you lose interest in what the teacher is saying and you look back, remembering all the pain that comes with group work. As you imagine how miserable the next few weeks are going to be, you think to yourself, “This time will be different; THIS time your group will support you in your efforts to turn in a quality project.”
But no matter how hard you try, there are some things that you just can’t avoid when it comes to group projects. Here are five things that always happen when you work in a group:
1. You meet at the beginning of the project and your group feels super organized.
Your group gets together right after class and discusses the assignment, you divvy out the responsibilities, and plan your next group meeting. Everyone swaps phone numbers so you can create a group chat, and then you leave. You head home, and as you work on your part of the project over the next few days, you feel good about the possibilities.
2. Schedules conflict and deadlines are hit and miss.
That good feeling you had the first few days of your project slowly dissipates as time goes on. Each time the group tries to meet, someone cancels. Your schedules that lined up so well in the beginning are now nothing but conflicting. Deadlines come and go and your group hasn’t met more than a couple times, but there are still a few days left.
3. Someone inevitably drops the ball bigtime.
Then someone drops the bombshell, they didn’t do their part. Whether the guilty party is you or another group member, it’s crunch time for your project and the group is suddenly without a key component. This leaves you and your classmates high and dry.
4. Panic sets in as the due date gets closer.
After receiving the bad news, it takes a minute to set in. You meet as a group to see what can be done to salvage the project, but right now all you are thinking about is leaving a name off the project when you turn it in. You wonder what will happen if you turn in a partially finished product.
5. A group hero steps in and saves the day.
While most of the group sits around lamenting that this happened to them again, one or two people are playing through their minds every inspirational video they have ever seen, slowly but surely coming to realize that they can save this project. Messages within the group bring hope to each member as this hero lets everyone know that they will step in to complete the broken project. Your project is turned in on time and complete, and now you just hope for a good grade.
Sometimes you’re the one that steps up and saves the day. Sometimes you get to sit back as another group member steps in. The project almost always gets done, but these five things almost always happen before it does.
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