BEAR ESSENTIALS: Group Project Guide


Caitlin Glasscock / Cluster Staff

group project 2

Caitlin Glasscock / Cluster Staff
Caitlin Glasscock / Cluster Staff

By now you have probably completed more than your fair share of group projects and assignments. These projects can either be wonderful collaborations allowing each member of the group to gain new insights, or they can be harbingers of doom. In order to prepare you for such encounters, here is a brief survival guide to help identify the wild creatures you may encounter in your group project adventure.

The Lazy One (discipulus piger)

There are some students who are not lacking intelligence but demonstrate a severe lack of motivation. In the group project experience, this student tends to be present for every group meeting but acts as an observer rather than as an active participant. These group members are troubling because they do not put as much effort into the task at hand as their partners do. When dealing with these individuals, it is probably best to find what their personal interests are to connect them to the project. By relating something that does drive the student, you will find that he or she will be more apt to participate and put their knowledge to good use.

The Facebooker (discipulus distentus)

Much like the lazy student, this apathetic pupil will not be of much use to the group. However, these students most likely do not have the basic knowledge needed to assist the group, as they have been distracted by their phones or social media during class. If they are always busy surfing the web with the professor around, they will probably “double-task” even more in a group setting. These students are a little more difficult to work around if they are not knowledgeable on the course materials. Try instituting a “no electronic devices” policy to start with and require that everyone bring ideas to your group’s discussions. Also, make it clear that everyone, including “Facebooker,” has a grade at stake, and a failing project does no one any good.

The Overachiever (discipulus vafer)

This group member has the opposite problem of the previous two. This student typically has a firm grasp on the material and is an active participant. However, this student also wishes to control the group – doing the majority of the work and shutting others’ opinions out. This student means well and wants to achieve the best possible grade, but group assignments are meant to teach everyone in the group, which is impossible when one person takes on the whole project alone. It is best to assign tasks for each student as soon as possible so the “Overachiever” has a limit on what he or she can work on. The “Overachiever” can be identified by his or her suggestion of over the top ideas (like using Latin in a newspaper article).

The Fighter (discipulus discordans)

The “Fighter” is a difficult one to control because he or she can be unpredictable. This student does not want to be in a group and only has one goal: creating chaos. These rambunctious students will disagree with what everyone suggests just for the sake of disagreeing. They are not playing “devil’s advocate” as they may claim, but just want to be a nuisance. These types of students can cause great harm to groups. Whereas the “Lazy One” and “Facebooker” are apathetic and do nothing to help the group, they do not actively seek to harm the group either. It is best to ask anyone who appears to be contrarian to keep their negative thoughts to themselves unless it can better the group or the project. This will better allow you to know what their actual thoughts on the project are and incorporate them as need be.

If you have any luck, your group members will all be intelligent, reasonable, hardworking, understanding and, most importantly, sane. However, if you find yourself working in a group consisting of Lazy Ones, Facebookers, Overachievers or Fighters, hopefully you have found enough helpful tips in this guide to get you through the challenging experience.