Fostering a collaborative work environment is a valuable skill, but so is learning how to work independently. Must we sacrifice one skill for the other? My high school had a project-based curriculum and I thought that was a slight struggle. But as an upperclassman, I have noticed a dramatic shift from independent assignments to having multiple group assignments in the same class.
They would be fine if they functioned as a group effort, but most times one person shoulders a major part of the weight. I have been on both sides. I have had successful experiences, but have had and heard some blatantly terrible stories about the horrors of working in a group.
My freshmen year I had a great group for my statistic project. I am not a math person and our group dynamic worked so well that I handled anything that had to do with the report, and they handled the numbers and software work. This was a beautifully orchestrated project because it played to everyone's strengths. Our group was also the perfect size: 5 people. This meant that by just the sheer probability of group projects that one person was not going to contribute any work, but we still had a solid number of people to complete the task.
Not every project works out nicely though. Last semester, my friend from home explained to me how she was essentially stuck doing an entire fifteen-page project at the last possible second because no one in her group was responsive. She emailed them asking for their parts to be placed in the document and no answer.
Around comes 11 P.M. and then 11:30 P.M. They finally pasted their parts in, but she had to do a major editing overhaul and reformat the entire project. She handed it in with seconds to spare, but it was such an anxiety-filled process that she now tries to avoid these situations at all costs.
This year, I have had a mix of seamless projects, thankfully, and others that needed a bit more work. Logistically speaking, it can be hard to meet up with other people. I have also received more than one shady group text at the most inconvenient times. Grade- wise, some projects are scaled so that everyone gets the same grade. I always had an issue with that because it somewhat promotes slacking off.
Working together can be a great way to learn valuable skills like patience and teamwork and maybe not to ever work with certain people ever again. While I don't completely understand the actual necessity of these projects, I understand that they aren't going anywhere. It'll just be more war stories to add to the dossier or maybe it will become another article.