Group work, real world vs. academia

This last module was designed as yet another “group” thing.   In any work environment, no matter what the environmental structure, I truly enjoy working as a member of a team.  Doing projects, meeting goals, working together with others – all aspects of teamwork, are awesome and personally rewarding to me.  In my years, working for any number of companies, both public and private, I have found that the adage Together Everyone Accomplishes More, to be undeniably true in a real-world environment.  In my experience, teamwork is a very big advantage in the working world.

I believe teamwork in a work environment succeeds because, in a work environment, you start off with structure. The “boss” or leader comes to the group/team with a plan, the plan is put in motion, everyone is assigned a role that best suits their own talents, the leader    manages the project, everyone does their part and VOILA!, the project gets done, hopefully on time and under budget. The massive boost that comes with the sense of accomplishment at the successful completion of a project is just unbeatable.

In an academic environment – not so much.

Personally, having been in school on and off for over forty-five years, group work in academia, especially at the Master’s level, is a general FAIL. Perhaps it is because we are dealing with grades and not livelihood. I adore group work as part of my paid work.  I detest having to depend on the work of others for my grades.

In a school-group project, the entire group starts off without structure, there is no leader, no plan, nothing, just a bunch of people floundering around to try to get an assignment in on time. These people, who do not know each other or understand the strengths of their group members, are tossed together, seemingly at random. Often, academic group members are just trying to get along, so no one steps up to the plate to take on the role of leader. Without leadership and a plan/goal the group flounders, frequently leading to project failure.  More often than not, a portion of the group is sincerely interested in doing well, so they take on the burden of the project while others, who don’t appear to care, just seem to let them. Then, they try to ride on other people’s work for a good grade.  The people who are participating and working hard resent this behavior.

It saddens me that professors of Master’s level students feel that their students have not had enough group exposure over the years and continue to assign group work.  At least this is what I have been told by professors when I’ve asked about this policy.  From kindergarten onward students are required to work in groups.  It seems that perhaps upper-level professors fail to realize that group projects are not appreciated by the good students who feel burdened by having to carry those who do not even make a decent effort.  By now, one would imagine professors would understand that students working on a Master’s degree prefer to be judged on their work and only their work.  Perhaps a reevaluation of group policy, or at least an option to do or not do group work, might be in order.  Perhaps there is a paper in this idea…



About Barbara Gaddy

I'm an Income Property Acquistion Specialist. I guide and train new and inexperienced investors in acquiring and managing income property in order to create long-term, passive income. I also hold a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science and an Honors BA in English and American Literature. I have a business blog here: This is my personal blog. I hope you enjoy it.
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