No Fancy Name
Monday, September 27, 2004
this is why I hate group work
There are a lot of morons in the world, and inevitably my grade will be affected by it. That's why I hate group work. Three different examples, just from today:

NOTE TO PROFESSOR-ISH PEOPLE: There's actually a question at the bottom of this rant, and I'd really like to hear various opinions....if you would be so kind?

1) In my online Phil of Science class, we have a week or so to discuss a specific thing, usually some problem that has several parts. One person is the "spokesperson," who is responsible for summarizing the "group response" and submitting a separate document to the prof. The problem with this situation is that this particular group of eight people had two people who didn't participate, and three other completely different ideas among the remaining six people. Two were variations on a theme, and that's fine—someone with summation skills can handle that. But one was a completely different (and just factually/fundamentally wrong) take on the whole thing, and try as we might, the person couldn't be swayed to one of the "right" ways of thinking. This person only logged in twice during the whole discussion, so we had to go for a period of time hoping that we could persuade them to change, but since we couldn't the spokesperson had to include this tangential line of thought. Add that to the fact that I had already taken my turn at spokesperson and couldn't jump in and "help" (e.g. fix the mess) unless I wanted to step on someone's toes, and we now how what I consider a crappy submission. Plus, the spokesperson posted the "final" version after she submitted it! What the hell happened to "everyone look over the final version before I submit the final final version"? Argh. The good news is that the prof has access to the entire discussion thread and grades appropriate to what she sees going on, so this particular occurrence won't really affect my grade, it just really annoys me.

2) In my Org Design & Change class, I am paired with another person and we do case write-ups together. Each case has four parts, and there are usually two cases each time cases are due. So, the first cases were due last Thurs—I "suggested" that my case-writing partner do parts 1 and 2 of each case (problem identification and alternatives considered), then I would do parts 3 and 4 (alternative selected/rationale and implementation). I did this on purpose, so I would have my hands on the document before printing and turning in to the prof. A significant number of people can't use Office software, I've found, despite having to pass a lab class on using Office (in the Business Dept, at least)! I can understand not knowing how to deal with Excel or Access, but freaking Word? Give me a break. Anyway, as I was saying, this worked out well last week because I could reformat and correct the dude's work before writing my part and printing the suckers. This time, to be fair, I took the first two questions, he was to handle the last two questions, print and hand in tomorrow morning. At 11:30pm Monday (class is 7:30am on Tuesday), I got an e-mail along the lines of "Help! I don't know what to do for case #4. Can you do it? If I don't hear from you by midnight, I'll just do something" Ok, at least he said he'd still do something. No, although I did get the message before midnight, I'm not going to do it for him. I'll take the hit on the grade—I'm not setting a precedent for the remaining cases we have this semester, not to mention the team project. I have already entrenched myself as writing coordinator for that one. So, tomorrow morning will be interesting—the cases will probably look like poop.

3) In my Business Systems & Policy class, I have three other people in my group. We also do cases, and tomorrow afternoon a case write-up is due. I was team leader for the first one, I made a template (document) for everyone to follow for when they're a team leader. This time around, I had to write up just my thoughts (industry analysis, Porter's Five Forces for the business, and a few specific IT recommendations based on a suggested competitive strategy for the company) and send to the new team leader (it rotates, we each get two turns) to compile and produce a document. I wrote a lot—I wanted the girl to have a lot to draw from (e.g. cut and paste) and some extra examples to maybe help them think of other things. I already talked to the prof about how my group has zero IT knowledge and are behind the curve. He suggested I be extra helpful and try to pull them along without being terribly obvious that I was doing so. Well, to this girl's credit, she sent us all her "final" document. I sent it back twenty minutes later, in the case template (it wasn't) and with edits all through the damn thing. Do people not know about spell check? Grammar check? Just a general glance at the overall "look" of the pages? Argh!

Ok, so the bottom line is that rant felt good, but my opening sentence isn't really least the last clause isn't true. Each of these profs knows the deal. But I still hate knowing that anything remotely scholarly I might do, is considered "extra" and not "normal." So sad.

Profs? How do you usually handle situations like this, from your point of view? Any suggestions for getting through three more months of this, plus another semester with even more group work?


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