EDITORIAL: Group work needs to stop

Photo by Augustine Ng.

Written by Chelsea Lecce

Group work. The most controversial and passionate argument you’ll hear from students. No matter the program or the year of study, everyone who attends Ryerson University has come across the dreadful headache of completing an assignment that is most likely worth more than an actual research paper.

Someone please explain why group work still exists in university. It was OK when we were in elementary school because we looked forward to shooting looks across the classroom to our friends when the teacher announced for us to make groups for a project. It was fun for the most part. All we had to do was pull out our markers and glue and paste all of our blown-up and pixelated images and cut-out printed documents to a bright coloured bristol board and call it a job well done.

It was all fun except for that one individual who ended up having to complete most of the work because they either took it upon themselves to be the master brain behind it all, or no one else was reliable. Somehow these same problems centred on group work still exist in university.

You would think that people who are living away from their parents, working jobs and adulting would be in some sense reliable, responsible and equally interested in passing the class.

Unfortunately it doesn’t always go that way.

How does the group work requirements get divided equally the day the assignment is assigned, but end up being scrambled together by one or two people the night before? There are students who are working endless nights so they can afford tuition to attend this class. Then they  find themselves panicking to get the work done on behalf of all the members, while the others are sleeping peacefully or enjoying their social life.

If professors are going to put the faith of our grades in the hands of other people that we don’t even know the names of, or how they are as students, then we shouldn’t have to pay a full course fee.

We don’t pay group tuition and we are not here so Ryerson can force us to depend on others for our education.

We all understand that the real world requires us to work for and with others. For now, we are paying to learn the knowledge for our desired field, so that we can pull our weight on the team. Everyone learns differently. We are all at different levels in the course, yet our averages are at stake because of these group marks.

Many students have voiced their opinions about group work and in most cases, how it was a complete disaster of an experience. Yet each semester we continue to walk into courses that state a group assignment in the syllabus.

Oftentimes, students are taking to student-member Facebook groups to post a desperate outcry for someone in their course to work with. On top of all this, we now have to force our group to make time in their schedule to meet and discuss. We all know commuters hate commuting on days they don’t need to, and it is super rare to find another student with a similar class schedule.

Ryerson should be providing us with an individual educational experience because, at the end of the day, we are showing up to school for ourselves and the hopes of achieving a desired successful future.

One Comment

  1. Samer Mansour says:

    Working with random people with various priorities in life is what a post education career is like though.

    I’ve been at it for a decade as a web developer, and I’ve been in positions where I was told to “shut up and do as you’ve been told”, all the way to “hey how’s your wellness, and I just need an update on the work you are doing?”

    Managers, people who will report to you, it’s a mix bag. My life is about picking the right times to struggle with people, and to not forget I need that pay cheque. You need those grades (ish). What stressed me out was scholarships running on my GPA and group assignment take downs. I was that organizer (master brain as you put it).

    That suffering made me realize not ever fight is worth your energy. If you enjoy what you do then it won’t matter how much work everyone else is doing around you, or even getting paid (sometimes). Careers will be group work everyday, but not necessarily in project form.

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