I remember being relieved to hear that group projects were not a focus for my graduate school program. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a great team player – and most group projects during my undergrad career were led by yours truly, and with outstanding results. But having my grade depend on the work of someone else was not something I wanted to deal with during grad school.
Imagine my surprise, then, when every single one of my classes has had at least one group project due at some point in the semester!
Some people thrive in group settings. On a resume, many would even list working in groups as a strength. But there is a certain amount of anxiety associated with group projects. Will everyone communicate and work well together? Will you end up with a micromanager? A slacker? Or someone who just doesn’t get it? Will you be stuck waiting to submit your final product until the last minute because each and every one of your group members insisted on editing the final document with track changes, which, let’s be honest, is sometimes more of a curse than a gift?\
Whatever the scenario, group projects are assigned for a reason, and it’s the same reason many recruiters like to see it on a resume: working with other people is going to happen in the real world. Unless you are a…honestly, I can’t think of one profession that doesn’t involve working with at least one other person. Even if you are self-employed, you’ll have to work with employees, customers, etc.
I have worked with a micromanager. A slacker. A person who just doesn’t get it. They’re out there, and you will inevitably have to work for or with someone who exhibits these characteristics. Luckily, you are in a perfect place to learn how to deal with all of the eccentricities of other people’s personalities and work ethics. Use group assignments to hone your communication and conflict management skills. Taking a leadership role can aid you in the future when you need to supervise a person or team. And that track changes function? You’ll get the hang of it…eventually.
For a visual representation of the learning outcomes from group projects, see the following graphic (note that this is not my actual opinion of group projects, but it is still pretty funny).
About the Author
Maria Pickl, Master’s Student, School of Education
Published in: Student Voices