When I got out of high school and enrolled at the University of Alberta, I was particularly excited for one thing: the end of the dreaded group project.
In high school a number of different things led me to hate working with others. We would prepare arbitrary presentations and our peers wouldn’t listen to them anyway. I thought that studying English and Comparative Literature in university would mean never having to collaborate for meaningless group assignments again.
Boy was I wrong. In fact, I seem to be doing more group projects than essays lately.
When I first saw all the group assignment descriptions on my syllabi at the beginning of the year, I decided to be as positive as possible. Perhaps the maturity level of my groups would be higher in university. Boy was I wrong again. Group work only seems to get worse in university, and I can safely say that the biggest source of my school stress has come from working with my peers.
But instead of letting it get me down any more, I’m going to relive the worst group project I have ever been a part of and hopefully my misfortune will at least brighten your day.
The final group presentation I did this semester was in one of my English classes. It was pretty straightforward: form a group of four, read an article in advance, prepare a PowerPoint presentation and speak in front of the class. I tried contacting my group a month in advance so we could coordinate what slides we wanted to do and how we wanted to present. Only one person answered. The other two ended up emailing me with just a week to spare. When I figured out what everyone wanted to present on, I made the Google Doc, did my part and waited. When I checked our project the night before, I noticed only one other person had started on. The other two, again, had nothing.
Anxious, and paranoid that half of the group forgot about our assignment, I checked again the morning of the presentation. One of the two slackers had completed their part; the other group member still had done nothing. That person didn’t forget, but just decided to leave it until the literal last minute.
About 20 minutes into our presentation, our perpetually late group mate showed up—the Google Doc ‘last edited’ time showed it was because that person was still working on the slides—read that part and LEFT right in the middle of the presentation! The professor took marks off for it. The project was worth about 15 per cent of the course grade and we all got the same mark.
If you’re one of those people who slacks off during group presentations, please pay more attention to them. For one, they’re worth marks that can bridge the gap between an abysmal final grade and the one you truly want. More importantly, just because you don’t care about your grade, doesn’t mean you should diminish the hard work your peers!
Ravanne Lawday is a second-year student at the University of Alberta.