Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Work

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Usually when a professor assigns group work a collective sigh rises from students. The professor is not only trying to reduce their marking, group work is a valuable skill necessary in the working world. It does not have to be a source of dread; the key is choosing people who complement your skills or weaknesses while learning how to communicate with people to get the job done.

Pro: New Ideas

  • More people on a project leads to more points of view and ideas. In a group, you can bounce ideas off one another or generate new ideas, which in turn leads to creative ways to approach or solve a project or problem.

Pro: Less Work

  • If there is one bonus to a 20-page group paper, it is that you only have to write four or five of those pages. Assign one person less writing (e.g., the introduction and conclusion) and the responsibility to tie the peices together. Agree ahead on what each section will include and talk often to avoid repetition. Also agree on a citation style.

Con: Efficiency

  • More people generally mean less efficiency. Group work requires effort to stay on task. At group meetings, the conversation may stray from the topic or people will try to push their ideas through. An agenda should be established beforehand and followed closely to stay on the point of the meeting.

Con: Quality

  • The tendency in group work is for one person to lower the quality of the assignment. Even worse is that one person may not do their share of work. Try to address these problems early within the group. Group members may have to help each other by reading drafts, for example, which would improve the overall project.

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