The Stress of Group Projects

by Elie Nowlis

Students hiding their stress and tears under smiles

Students hiding their stress and tears under smiles

I have only cried at school a few times in my life. One of the most memorable times was when I was working on a map project in 7th grade. It was a big assignment and my group was doing nothing. Even though I had been doing almost all the work, the other group members wanted to make dramatic last minute changes.

I was incredibly stressed out, overwhelmed, and anxious. I felt like no one was listening. I needed to take a break and go to the bathroom to cry, just so I could continue working. This was only time in my long history of stressful group projects.

The worst thing about group projects is that everything depends on what group you get. Certain people have individual work styles or might just not care about a particular project. As someone who cares about grades and school work, working with people who don’t try their best is awful.

With an unmotivated group, I would always end up doing the majority, or entirety of the work. Then when my entire group received an A, it wouldn’t feel fair.

In sophomore year, a large majority of your grade is based on group projects. I was incredibly lucky to get a good group for the Global Health Project, however, I have many friends who were not so lucky. They ended up either doing all the work or disagreeing with their group and getting nothing done at all.

This doesn’t seem like a reasonable way to decide what grade each student should receive. Grades determine many things including scholarships, college admissions, and sometimes even household privileges. These should be based on an individual’s effort, understanding, and work ethic.

Group projects can rarely be fair.

On the rare occasion that I get a group where everyone does equal work, it can be really fun and we’re able to explore a topic in more depth than an individual could. However, the majority of the time, especially if we do not get to choose our own groups, there is an uneven share of the work.

I would suggest that teachers let students choose their own groups. Typically friends share the responsibilities equally and the academic level is similar throughout the group. Problems can arise when teachers try to “mix things up.” Although variety in groups is important, it shouldn’t be the cause of a risk to your grade.

My group project in 7th grade turned out fine. We finished it in on time and got an A. But this was not without a detriment to my happiness and even sanity. Group projects can be beneficial by providing a deeper understanding, but more often than not they turn into a nightmare.


Photo by Merrymatilla

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