Why do professors assign group projects?

An Open Letter To Professors Who Assign Group Work

In the classroom, there is NO strength in numbers.

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There is something to be said about the workings of a well-oiled machine. The swift cohesion of pieces working together to create a masterful finished product. Each individual part bringing its own unique gifts and interesting character together to create an impeccable arrangement of academic collaboration. It is absolutely awe-inspiring that professors dream of this sort of outcome from the random chunk of students that they forced together. So sorry to break it to you, professors, but the group project you assign in your class is not going to work like this. The final product will not be a meticulously crafted work of art. It is going to turn into a flaming disaster as your bitter students shamefully share the work they have thrown together.

Group projects are the bane of my, and most students', existence. You assign them in large lecture halls, small discussion courses, and every class in between. Most of the time you assemble the members of each group yourself, creating the saddest excuse for a team to ever grace the planet. This leaves the students no choice as to who they will be working with, which essentially makes the grade out of the individual's hand because they have no power over which random stranger will be tossed into their group. In the rare occasion that you do not assign the groups yourself, you leave the fear-stricken students to frantically gather their own clusters of people. This is just as bad because in this case students typically choose groups based on geographical location in the classroom, their seats that they chose on the first day of class and never got around to relocating.

Regardless of how they were gathered, every group project will introduce your students to a dynamic range of personalities. There is the one super intense leader that thinks this project grade is the single most important moment of their entire life, and if everyone does not commit their full selves to it they will actually burn the school to the ground. Conversely, there is the lazy, weak link; who is consistently dropping the ball on the group's shared research document and honestly none of the other group members even know what this person looks like because they skip class so ridiculously much. There is the one person who works every second of every day and can never fit your group meeting into their schedule because their nannying job is so important (this is actually a subtweet at me, my apologies to all of my past group members, I just have a really busy schedule, okay). Please, do not subject your students' grades to depend on the work of these insane classmates. A student's grade should reflect their own, individual work, group projects skew and make that impossible.

I understand that you mean well by assigning these projects. You hope to teach us how to work well with others, a valuable communicative asset in the real world. However, in the real world, there are standards for hiring at a company and if a worker does not perform well they will be fired. There are no standards for getting into my psychology class, any student with a laptop and a break in their schedule on Tuesday and Thursday mornings is welcome to join the class. There are no standards for performance either. If a student does not perform well in a group project their grade will plummet, which to my surprise does not greatly bother as many students as I thought, as does every other member of the group's grade. So unfair, so unparallel to the real world. Stop comparing your English 101 class to the real world.

Please professors, just stop with the group projects. I will happily write all of the papers, study all of the lectures, and even read all of the chapters in my textbook. Just don't make me create another Google Slides presentation with a bunch of strangers again.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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Crossroads

Trying to figure out what to do in life.

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I never saw the crossroad

Where I could cross n' roam

Under an arch or dome. [1]

I just kept on the road

That was laid out,

Told to hold out

Till it pays out. [2]

Now I think its too late

Been walking too long,

Classes are all wrong

But masses too strong. [3]

So I follow with my head down

And chest up, succeeding cause

I'm too scared to fuck it up. [4]

But I have a need to lead,

Top-down and gears up

Leaving nothing to the dust.

But if I drop out, I'm a fuck up. [5]

Is it better to live and rust

Or drive till it busts

With trust you can find the way? [6]


[1] - Play on roam/Rome. Starts the poem by expressing the feeling of being trapped in my path in life. I felt like I never got the chance to figure out what I wanted to do.

[2] - I think a lot of it was I was following what people told me I should be doing.

[3] - I have a feeling that it is too late to change my course of life. I'm in a college for business, taking classes about business, and everyone around me wants to do business.

[4] - This is saying that even though I am not passionate about what I am doing I am still trying to succeed only because I'm scared of failing or quitting.

[5] - I want to leave and lead myself, do something where I'm not following but I don't know how to do that. This part starts a car reference, idk I've been watching Formula 1 on Netflix and its dope.

[6] - This is the question I've been asking myself, wondering if I should continue on with my path or follow my passion.

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