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Education rip-off #1: "group work"

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posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 08:53 AM
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This post actually comes out of another thread, Political Intolerance in College; real or imagined?, Where people have complained about unfairness in higher education.

My first example is "group work." This is where the instructor divides the class into groups of 3 or four students each, and then each group develops a project which they present to the class, often for the majority of the grade.

Usually, somewhere in the syllabus, is the small print that every member of a group will get the same grade



What a crock! In every case of "group work", you were yoked with 2 or 3 other students, and told that you would all receive the same grade. Obviously, someone (the "flower pot") is going to do the work, and carry the rest of the group (the "flowers").

I once complained to a professor that the other students in my "work group" refused to even get together and plan our project. I asked to be removed from the group, and placed in another, or to be allowed to be a group of my own(!). The professor refused, and told me that we'd all get the same grade, no matter what . . . so if I needed the A from him, I'd better get cracking!

I am familiar with the argument that group work teaches interpersonal skills, and that students learn things in the process of personal discovery that cannot be learnt in mere instruction and self-directed learning. First, unless the class is "interpersonal skills," then such a benefit is really beyond the scope of the actual class. Second, if people learn at different rates, it stands to reason that a group will be slowed down by the slowest student.



But look at it from the professor's point of view.

-Once the project begins, you don't have to lecture any more. You just sit in the back of the class and listen. The STUDENTS do the work of teaching.

-In group work, there is generally LESS INFORMATION presented per hour of class-time than would be the case in a traditional lecture. So if you don't have much material to present, just assign a "group work" project.

-You stretch out the class, by clearing the last several days (weeks!) of the calendar for "class presentations." This means EVEN LESS work for you!

-As a professor, you don't have to do nearly as much grading for group work. If you divide the class into groups of three, then you only have to compute a third as many grades, since everyone in each group gets the same grade.

-The bigger the project, the fewer other assignments you'll need to grade.

-You can even have the groups GRADE EACH OTHER! This choice reduces your role to merely proctor and attendance taker---and you get paid the same!!!


.




posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 10:06 AM
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Ugh. I just graduated college, and there is nothing worse than group work. Group work has a tendency to decide your grade- if you're doing B work, get a crappy group for the assignment, it'll bring you down to a C. So you sit there in class, hoping and praying you only get one token deadweight.

Basically, groupwork is a free ride for the students who can't be bothered to put their backs into their schoolwork. It ups the average mark, at the cost of having the smarter, harder workers in a group suffer.

DE



posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 11:16 AM
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I just graduated university too, and fortunately I didn't have much group work in my program, but I did have one project course in my final year. Our group had 4 people. Me and one other guy did the entire project, because we could not get the other group members to do anything. Fortunately, our instructor must have noticed at least a little bit, because we didn't all get the same grade, but the guys who did nothing still passed the hardest course in the curriculum without doing anything. However, me and the guy who worked would have gotten higher grades if we hadn't had to spend all our time and effort on that project (we were at school until 11pm-midnight quite regularly). On about the 2nd or 3rd last day before the year-long project was due, and it still wasn't working, one guy took off to play soccer with his buddies and the other guy went to a party with his wife. Yeah, group work roXXors.
Talking to my dad about this one day, he mentioned that in my chosen profession, my entire career is going to be one group project after another :p



posted on Aug, 3 2006 @ 01:54 PM
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We get this in school all the time! I generally end up doing all the work AND buying all the materials (much to the dismay of our family's wallet
) while the others get a "get out of jail free card" for the assignment, so to speak. And, should you show up that day with your share of the work while the others in the group don't, then oops! You're screwed.

Getting in a group with certain "high-group" or "gifted" (
) students can cause other students designated as mid- or low-group to instantly shut down and expect the high-group student to come up with all ideas and do the project themselves. Of course, the groups are designed to have 1 high-group student, 1 mid-group student, and 2 low-group students or a variation of that pattern so that the low-group students will pass with an A or B - thus letting them pass the class, which is less work for the teacher.

[edit on 8/3/06 by ShreddedIce]



posted on Aug, 4 2006 @ 08:00 AM
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I have been several years out of college, but I have some bad news for our recent graduates. Group work continues on in the "real world", when you're finally working. And if you think it's aggravating to get a less then stellar grade from a prof because of slackers in the group, or you ending up doing the bulk of the work because of those slackers, wait until your job, your pay, your relations with your boss, clients, and other co-workers all hang on this group work.

Looking back I see group work in school as an invaluable tool to get your leadership and social skills honed. You can look at it as an opportunity for you to step forward and learn how to get a group going the right direction, or you can let it aggravate you. Group work can indeed be stressful and unfair, but you better get used to it, because it ain't going away.



posted on Aug, 4 2006 @ 12:54 PM
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With respect to the working world, it totally depends on the will of your employer.

Most working groups in the fields I've worked in, there is a clear-cut chain of responsibility. Leading a group like that is totally different from an education-institutional time-waster.

If there is a working group at my office, someone is in charge; this means that while they cannot fire a group member, they can report him/her, get them transferred, etc.

In other words, an individual (supervisor), has responsibility for a group's performance. "Everyone gets a C" is not something the Big Boss wants to hear. When the supervisor reports a low quality product, you can bet there's going to be an evaluation/investigation.

Now, that can be just as politic-filled as education, but there is a safety-valve, in that profit is the goal. And everyone knows what profit looks like. The only real question is this: Is the big boss competent to move toward profit, and does he do what it takes to move his underlings in the same direction? Or does he tolerate behavior that is counterproductive? If so, it's time to get out your resume.

Maybe that's the core problem with groupwork in an educational setting: there's no responsibility, and the higher up (teacher) bears no responsibility for the work of underlings. . . .
.



posted on Aug, 4 2006 @ 09:44 PM
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I totally agree that group work in an educational setting absoiutely no educational bearing, or "real world" experience. Back in my college days, probablly just when group work was just being kick started, I had one group work project.

To be honest, I was the slacker. I will admit I had too much on my pallet, and should have cut back on a class doing only 15 credits instead of 18. For the type of project I was on, the group expected me to make phone calls, which I could not afford to do. I was dirt poor, and usually didn't have any spending cash. I had only necessary cash that I needed to use on particular things, or else I would be in major trouble.

None of them would listen I don't have the money to call this person and that person to set up an appoitment to talk to them let alone meet the person later on somewhere. I ended up circumventing it, and did research where I could to write the reports. The internet was not in existence at that time. My beef was that I could have done something else that didn't require me to spend any amount of cash, but those positions where "filled" so to speak. Needless to say, the group got mad at me. The entire group went to the teacher about me.

The teacher facing the entire group decided to give the group one grade of a B+, which I would be apart of, but also gave me a seperate grade which was a D-. I think she only did that because she had more than 4 students breathing down her neck.

The group work that everyone is talking about now sounds just as bad if not more so.

To me it would make more sense for the teacher to give the over all goal, make each person do individual work that would be graded seperately. Then tell the entire group that they will need to put all their individual work together to make a cohearent report that will be presented to the class. No more research can be added. That way everyone would have already done "their" work and be graded on it. Then state that each student has to speak during the report, and make it creative. Then that is what the group as a whole would be graded on. If a person didn't give their part of the presentation, that person would automatically recieve an F for the entire project without it affecting the rest of the group. Equivalent to the manager asking for someone to be transfered or fired for thier performance. It would also mean that all the students would have to get together to figure out how all the individual pieces can fit together, and to know what to talk about so they don't repeat each other. Or on the creative side, depending on what the project is, it could even be a skit performed.

How many teachers would go through that trouble? It also wouldn't line up with the NWO "outcome based education" or what every you want to call it agenda. I have even read, forget where, something to the fact that they wanted to add to the report card how sociable a person is and how well they got along in a group setting. Then after graduation that would become a part employment screening. I think it was from a questionable source though.



posted on Aug, 4 2006 @ 09:49 PM
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Originally posted by dr_strangecraft

This post actually comes out of another thread, Political Intolerance in College; real or imagined?, Where people have complained about unfairness in higher education.

My first example is "group work." This is where the instructor divides the class into groups of 3 or four students each, and then each group develops a project which they present to the class, often for the majority of the grade.

Usually, somewhere in the syllabus, is the small print that every member of a group will get the same grade



What a crock! In every case of "group work", you were yoked with 2 or 3 other students, and told that you would all receive the same grade. Obviously, someone (the "flower pot") is going to do the work, and carry the rest of the group (the "flowers").

I once complained to a professor that the other students in my "work group" refused to even get together and plan our project. I asked to be removed from the group, and placed in another, or to be allowed to be a group of my own(!). The professor refused, and told me that we'd all get the same grade, no matter what . . . so if I needed the A from him, I'd better get cracking!

I am familiar with the argument that group work teaches interpersonal skills, and that students learn things in the process of personal discovery that cannot be learnt in mere instruction and self-directed learning. First, unless the class is "interpersonal skills," then such a benefit is really beyond the scope of the actual class. Second, if people learn at different rates, it stands to reason that a group will be slowed down by the slowest student.



But look at it from the professor's point of view.

-Once the project begins, you don't have to lecture any more. You just sit in the back of the class and listen. The STUDENTS do the work of teaching.

-In group work, there is generally LESS INFORMATION presented per hour of class-time than would be the case in a traditional lecture. So if you don't have much material to present, just assign a "group work" project.

-You stretch out the class, by clearing the last several days (weeks!) of the calendar for "class presentations." This means EVEN LESS work for you!

-As a professor, you don't have to do nearly as much grading for group work. If you divide the class into groups of three, then you only have to compute a third as many grades, since everyone in each group gets the same grade.

-The bigger the project, the fewer other assignments you'll need to grade.

-You can even have the groups GRADE EACH OTHER! This choice reduces your role to merely proctor and attendance taker---and you get paid the same!!!


.




do you work? every job i have ever had i had to work with people in a group and the group was punished or rewarded for the end result of their work.



posted on Aug, 4 2006 @ 11:19 PM
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Originally posted by jprophet420



do you work? every job i have ever had i had to work with people in a group and the group was punished or rewarded for the end result of their work.



Yeah I work. I'm forty, and I've been working since I was 14. Every place I worked, if a group didn't perform well, the boss got in the middle of them and figured out who was effing off, and canned their butt.

Anyplace I worked where my advancement or bonus depended on someone else's output, I got the hell out of there and got a real job.

When I've worked as a supervisor, even when a group performed well, I was still interviewed by my boss as to who was doing the real work. When I had problems, the boss interviewed the people that I said weren't cutting it; and made his/her own decisions about whom to cut.

.

[edit on 4-8-2006 by dr_strangecraft]



posted on Aug, 5 2006 @ 04:55 AM
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well, i guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. i have worked at real jobs where you had a task to do and you had to get it done within the group no matter how 'diverse' the group was. i.e. the spectrum of people actually doing the work. ok, yeah if someone performs poorly over a period of time they will wind up getting let go, but when you are filling hundred million dollar orders the job comes first reveiws later. you may have to work with some real losers in real life weather you like it or not and no matter how good your job is or how much it pays. i would assume it would also help seperate the leaders from the tools. after all, in the scenario you discussed if you are the boss that can just let someone go (who deserves it of course) NOW and replace them more power to you.

maybe they should do it real world style then? the teacher is 'project manager' and can 'fire' poorly preforming 'workers' (students), effectively giving them an 'f'. anyone for that?



posted on Aug, 5 2006 @ 09:55 AM
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Originally posted by jprophet420

maybe they should do it real world style then? the teacher is 'project manager' and can 'fire' poorly preforming 'workers' (students), effectively giving them an 'f'. anyone for that?



That was crossing my mind during my last post. In a certain sense, that's power that teachers already possess, to some extent. On the other hand, I've held supervisory positions where I didn't have hire/fire authority; but my evaluations would carry a lot of weight. It's like that for college professors, certainly.


One indicator of institutional sickness is when you see people who have authority without responsibility, whereas other hold responsibility, but have no authority.

So in a properly functioning "teaching company," the teacher would also in turn be called on the carpet regarding the students' lack of progress.

I guess one of my gripes with higher education is that, sometimes, professors seem to have plenty of authority, without any responsibility.

.



posted on Aug, 5 2006 @ 01:07 PM
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I'm not saying that I like group work, but in my judgement such assignments are a necessary part of the educational process. Group projects teach the values of teamwork, compromise, the democratic process, leadership, and not least of all, the process of group dynamics. It's one thing to read about group dynamics, but it's quite another to have those points driven home in group assignments.

In Social Work school, group work is a significant part of almost every class and rightfully so, because so much of Social Work is done in groups ranging from treatment teams, to committees, to community work and much the same can be said for many professions.

This would have been an excellent topic for Social Issues.



posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 11:29 PM
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The difference I see is that in the 'real' world, you are being paid to do something. Also, in the end, poorly managed companies do eventually lose money and can go bankrupt, so their is presumably some level of accountability.

Universities and schools play a different game. They claim to provide two primary functions: education and certification. Now, education can mean many things including: critical thinking/logic/mathematics, rhetoric, knowledge, subservience/professionalism, and fraud. Certification through degrees and such is merely a claim that you have suceeded in what the institution taught.

So, where does group fit into the picture? I think it sucessfully teaches some subservience and fraud. Some group members are tricked into being subservient to the other group members who do the actual work. The people who do the actual work are being taught to be subservient to the group's interests, and the people who are lazy are taught fraud (I.E. tricking th professor into thinking they did the actual work).

While some may think these skills don't apply to the real world, I believe they are perfectly applicable. Fraudsters can engage in sleazy marketing, convincing others that they can deliver good products. Artsy types (druggies with a college degree?) can help add flashy graphics to the slick sales presentations and product cases. Presumably, there are competent people behind the operation, but if not its easy enough to outsource the real work to India. Often times, flashy stuff outsells better products.

The whole process is spurred on by fads, and the all-too American tendency for great financial bubbles. I think America has historically been a world leader in some of the most 'irrational' ideological and economic drivers. However, these trends have also to some of the greatest innovations.

The thing is that in an irrational world, the rational can go bankrupt. This is how America continually reinvents itself as anti-traditionalist, even the traditionalist epochs of American history.



posted on Sep, 9 2006 @ 05:15 AM
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posted on Sep, 12 2006 @ 09:39 PM
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I completely agree that group work is unfair!! As a participant in a number of group activities assigned by the teacher I can honestly say that my part of the work was definitely not equivalent to the majority of the work done by my peers. I have been in many situations where the other members of my group did not do half of the work that I did.
I think that group work is a total waste of time and energy if the whole group gets the same grade at the end because it can be proven that not all of the members of the group put in the same amount of time of energy.

Group work SUCKS!!



posted on Sep, 14 2006 @ 11:59 PM
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I agree that group work is rarely a fair, equitable distribution of work. In the instances I have faced it there is alwas 1 or 2 people who pull together to get the work done. There is also usually someone who wants to be "in charge" and trys to take credit for most of the work ... sadly about 1/2 the time this is the person who has done the least.

My solution, instead of complaining to the teacher, was to include in either the reference section a list of what was specifically done by each member. If it was a presentation it would be one of the ending slides, a kind of thank you but also there to make it clear who was not pulling their weight on the assignment. I had a teacher once who saw that all that one member of our group do was to buy some inexpensive supplies and she failed that member and passed the assignment. Unfortunately most teachers feel it sets a good example of "teamwork" as it will be faced in the workplace. There is some validity to that argument ... but I'm paying you to educate me, not getting paid to complete work.




Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
I'm not saying that I like group work, but in my judgement such assignments are a necessary part of the educational process. Group projects teach the values of teamwork, compromise, the democratic process, leadership, and not least of all, the process of group dynamics. It's one thing to read about group dynamics, but it's quite another to have those points driven home in group assignments.

In Social Work school, group work is a significant part of almost every class and rightfully so, because so much of Social Work is done in groups ranging from treatment teams, to committees, to community work and much the same can be said for many professions.

This would have been an excellent topic for Social Issues.



posted on Sep, 16 2006 @ 02:01 AM
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Same here. It's a load of crock. We had to do an antarctica project, and I did all the work, fat albert sat on his fat ass and did nothing, and goldy locks did some crappy animation.

I did TONS of work.



posted on Sep, 16 2006 @ 10:52 PM
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Relevant Story I have on the topic

This is hilarious because I read through this thread before entering college. When it started just recently, I was to be assigned to 1 of 3 groups for an upcomming group project. When the instructor announced this I immediately thought of this discussion. After explaining the entire project she procceded to get the groups together. The project was split into 3 ways, 2 debate groups and a judge group. The issue to debate was for or against Free trade and its impact on humanity in a positive or negative fashion.
What the 2 debate groups need to do is to gather a lot of information on the subject and then argue their groups position on it. What the 3rd group does is judge on how well or poorly the teams are doing at arguing their position and basically does the job of grading for her.

Basically all she has to do is sit and watch until the debates are done. Slap a grade on it and thats that. What was funny is how typical this is of teachers to do when they're lazy.
The thing is though, I got picked for the Judge group so I do as much as the teacher this time. I lucked out so much hahah!!

debates are being held on the 18th, love free weekends.



posted on Sep, 16 2006 @ 11:01 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
I'm not saying that I like group work, but in my judgement such assignments are a necessary part of the educational process. Group projects teach the values of teamwork, compromise, the democratic process, leadership, and not least of all, the process of group dynamics. It's one thing to read about group dynamics, but it's quite another to have those points driven home in group assignments.

In Social Work school, group work is a significant part of almost every class and rightfully so, because so much of Social Work is done in groups ranging from treatment teams, to committees, to community work and much the same can be said for many professions.

Well said, Grady.






This would have been an excellent topic for Social Issues.

Personally, I would try that this thread would make an excellent Rant topic...cause IMHO, most of the commentaries given thus far are direct and/or indirect complaints of the "group work" philosophy so well practiced and utilized within high school and college settings, as well as in the 'real world' settings. But yes, of course, such a tried and true practice makes "group work" an "education ripoff".....oh yes, certainly, of course...*smacks forehead*

[edit on 16-9-2006 by Seekerof]



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