Group Projects

This is why I don’t assign group projects. I can’t deal with this much snowflakery and very special cookie-ness.

But hey, plenty of professors are snowflakey as hell, too.

14 thoughts on “Group Projects

  1. All the highly-educated “snowflakes” that you link to seem to have one trait in common: They’ve never learned how to write concisely, get to whatever their point is, and then come to a clear conclusion and shut the hell up.

    I wonder how many people who started reading either of those rambling, semi-coherent whines actually managed to read them all the way to the end?

    I may be a judgmental jerk, but it doesn’t take me 2,000 words to piss everybody off!


  2. Group projects are almost never justified in an academic setting. But they are insanely popular. In fact, one writing course that I am aware of has a course description that specifies that the final project must be group-written. The justification given is that: “In the real world, almost all writing is done by a working group or a committee. There is no need to practice writing as a single author.”


  3. I don’t think the student you linked to is even complaining about a group project, I think it’s just a class that has a lot of partner and small group activities done in the classroom and they don’t want to be forced to talk to any of the other students in class.


  4. Sort of related: A student who feels that she is very unusual and not really accepted because she’s done a large number of prestigious internships.

    She is convinced that she is unconventional and the physics and astronomy communities need to do more to embrace people who relish these sorts of prestigious internships and embrace all of the stated goals of these internships that are funded and endorsed by people at the highest levels of the scientific community.


    1. I have trouble even understanding what this is about. What’s the huge hardship of having these internships?

      People really need to stop trying to find ways to feel like victims. I know a couple of people who really overcame enormous hardship to become scholars. And I never heard them feel sorry for themselves or blab about their diversity. Never.


      1. Yeah, I don’t get how somebody could say that the author of that piece “took an atypical route to her current position at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam in Germany, where she studies stars under a Fulbright grant.” Um, a series of prestigious internships is pretty much the ideal route to a Fulbright.

        I know a guy who bragged about how he took an atypical route to grad school: Instead of immediately going for his PhD, after graduating from an Ivy League school he went into the Peace Corps and THEN went to grad school. Wow, who ever heard of that? Bachelor’s from an Ivy, then Peace Corps, and then grad school? Everyone in the Hamptons will be awestruck to learn that such a path is possible!


  5. I would have hated group activities as a student and am not in favor of this insistence that everything has to be done with other people. Learning and thinking happens inside one’s own head. Sure, when there are questions, it’s good to have someone to ask, but socializing with peers is not substitute for actual work and actual learning. I encourage people to work together on HW if they want but also we have discussion and plenty of office hours so that those who work alone can get help from me or the TA. But everyone has to do their own work and show their own mastery of the material.

    There are a few flipped-classroom and group-project-ueber-alles zealots in my department and they get very defensive when you argue that a class format that perhaps benefits extroverted and confident young men doesn’t benefit anyone else; that group work generally deteriorates into an Alpha talking over everyone and bullying everyone even though the Alpha may not be the most skilled, talented, or original as a thinker; that there is always someone who slacks off yet ends up getting full credit based on the work of others. Sure, maybe this is the reality of corporate America, but doesn’t have to be the reality of sophomore classrooms at random American universities.

    Unless, of course, we are indoctrinating students from as early as possible that this type of hierarchy and fucked-up Alpha-takes-all dynamics is inescapable in their lives and careers. Which of course we are.


    1. We are in foreign languages, so without group activities there is no learning at all. It’s not like I can give an hour-long lecture. It’s all group activities. And the participation portion of the grade is anywhere between 20 and 40%. This year was the first time that the disability office informed me that one student has “a condition” that prevents her from participating. I honestly have no idea how to grade this student at all. And I’m worried that if this tendency grows, we won’t be able to teach our material at all.


  6. I think that any good learning requires both solo and group projects, the proportion will vary with subject but most of the time after graduation people are going to have to work in groups at times and they need to learn how to negotiate that (I can’t stand it myself and do wish I had a bit more practice since I’m so terrible at it).

    The linked article reads like a post hoc rationalization for changing majors, a narrative created where the student doesn’t change willingly but is forced out by fate and and a cruel world. We all do that kind of thing sometimes though I try to keep mine inside my head instead of sharing it with the world.


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