Group Responsibility

Oh look it is freaking part two.

This is also known as ‘When they realize that this is their final grade and start caring’.

 

It’s true. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.

Also known as 'You know it to be true'

Don’t even try to deny it. This is how it works, unfortunately.

 

Ain’t that just fantastic. It’s right about now that I wish WordPress had a spoiler thing. That image is too freaking big for my tastes and I can not stand it all up in my screen space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So look I hit enter a bunch of times. Problem solved. Now then, onto group projects.

So, I assume that most people have been put into a group decided by the teacher, either with people they didn’t like or didn’t choose. Most everyone has. Oh well suck it up.

Seriously? I’ve been in groups that I haven’t liked before. In fact, I have been in groups I’m not fond of very, very often. Sometimes they don’t like me either. Perhaps it’s that elitist attitude and snobbish demeanor I give off that makes me not get along well with other people. Whatever the case may be, my stance on group projects is fairly simple. Do your share of the work. I do not care if you have a problem with me. Your social issues with me have little to no relevance to our project and our grades. And by the way, it is not only my grade on the line, it is also yours. So do the work.

I’m sure you’ve been in that situation. You’re in a group and people keep flaking out on you, not doing their share of the work, so you and maybe one other person pick up all the slack because neither of you want a zero on the assignment, right? So you do the work, and the teacher gives everyone in the group that darn B+. Oh man B+!That’s freaking horrible! Yeah no it’s not. Not when 2 people did the work of 5. So I guess I should just start listing off things at this point that annoy me about group projects. The first should be obvious. Not picking up your share of the work.

 

Now don’t get me wrong. If you don’t care about the class, fine. You don’t really care if you get an A or a B or a C, alright. That’s your prerogative, not really my concern. If that’s what you want to do, then that’s your choice. Maybe you’ve got a home situation going on. Maybe you’ve got something else. Maybe you just don’t care and don’t think it’s worth it. Your call. Fine. Don’t do the work for your assignments. See, when you do that, it doesn’t affect me. You get a zero, I get a grade that is not a zero, we’re both still separate. When you put us in a group, however, there’s one thing you have to understand. You now have a responsibility to the rest of the group to do what you say you are going to do. You can not flake out. So that’s further subdivided into two parts. Not doing your work and not doing what you say you will do.

When you have a group project, you are part of a group. It is your responsibility to not take some of the workload. You do not get a free ride because you ‘got lucky’ and ‘got into a group with that nerd’. I have heard both of those phrases said in several occasions, both with people in groups with me and not. That is in no way fair. Do your share of the work. And do not half-ass it or basically make it useless. If you are in the same grade and taking the same class as me, what I expect is a basic level of competence in that class. Do your work and do it properly. So when it comes time to divide tasks, you have to take something. I don’t mind if you say “I’ll take whatever’s left.” I’ve done that on occasion, as it’s simple. It lets everyone get what they want, and if you have no preference, you still end up doing some part of the workload and fill up the empty space. Perfect. A good example of this not happening follows. It doesn’t even have to be in class. Here we go:

So I’ve gone backpacking before with a group. If you’ve ever gone backpacking with a group before, you know it’s a lot easier than going alone sometimes because the ‘crew’ divides the gear between each member so that all the necessary equipment gets transported, but at the same time, no one is overburdened. I was along with about 10 other individuals. So when it came time to pack up camp and head out, we had to distribute the gear for the day’s hike to the next spot. We had a bunch of crew gear stacked up, and it should have been split up. Everyone should have taken some part of it, even a smaller portion. Unfortunately, that was not the case. What we got were excuses. My backpack is too heavy, my backpack is too full, I carried it yesterday, etc.  Sound familiar? If not, let me show you. Watch: My backpack course load is too heavy, my backpack schedule is too full, and so on.

So who takes the gear or the work? That one guy or girl who knows it needs to get done. You don’t go anywhere unless someone picks up the extra load, whether it is actual gear or work for a project, and takes care of it. Now before you object and say “Yeah, but some people just take it before anyone else has a chance to respond or takes the whole project on their shoulders and don’t give us a chance to comment”, I know. I understand. There are some very domineering personalities in the world, but if you have a part you want to do, then take it. Do not complain because you were too chicken to raise your voice and say, “I can take care of it.” What, are you scared of responsibility? Commitment? See, that’s the exact same thing that those guys who don’t take anything at all probably feel, except they don’t try to cover it up by blaming others. At least the excuses they make are about themselves. Well, anyway. I do get there are some personalities like that and it’s hard to say anything. Fine. But not everyone is like that. Sometimes no one takes it and someone has to. So one or two members of the team carry the entire burden and support the entire group for that leg of the journey, or for the project. I don’t think that’s fair, but it happens. It bugs me, but it happens. Fine.

The second thing that really bugs me about this thing is the idea of doing what you say you will do. It’s bad to not take anything, but it’s just as bad to say that you’ll “take care of it”, and then you fall through. You don’t take care of your part, and at that point, everyone is scrambling to make up for your portion. This is a bit more of an overarching concept, the idea of keeping to your word. I think I may have mentioned this previously, but I’m a big believer in not making promises I can’t keep. It’s for the exact reason that I do not want to be the guy who falls through, who lets other people down. And that’s really the bottom line to this whole group thing.

 

When you are in a group, other people rely on you and are trusting you to be in the group with them. They are believing in you to take care of the assignment with them, to do your fair share, and to cooperate such that everyone does an appropriate amount of work and gets a great result. When you don’t do your fair share, but expect a return, you are breaking that trust. When you commit to completing one portion, but fall through, you are breaking that trust. When you skip meetings, when you fall through, when you act irresponsibly, you are breaking that trust.

And for your group members, they can’t do anything but sigh and try to clean up your mess. They try to get the result, because they want the result. They need the result. In fact, you might need the result too, but no one wants to call you out on it. No one wants to be rude. No one wants to scream, yell, shout, kick and scream, to throw a fit and raise a ruckus when they know wrong has been done. No one wants to, because they should be understanding. They should be accommodating. They shouldn’t throw a fit over every little thing. They should be reasonable and not be upset that their group member let them down.

That sounds perfectly reasonable. Except it doesn’t. So why do we let it? I guess that’s what society expects of us, but I know I can’t be the only one who feels their blood boil a little when a group member fails. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve done it to other people just to get back at them. It’s a little scary. I actually said, “I usually do all the work, so since I’m not going to be here on Thursday, I’m going to make you guys do all the work.” I did the work during that work day, but I didn’t really do much of anything else. And I’m realizing now that this is exactly the kind of thing that sparks drama and nonsense, whether it is at work, at school, or even recreational. It doesn’t make any sense.

 

So now you know. That’s what usually bugs me about group projects. But we have yet to get onto part two, the part known as ‘but these things really, really bug me’. I’ll talk about two things in particular now. First, complaining about a result you put no work into. Second, trying to jump into a project at the end.

So the first thing that gets under my skin. Complaining about a project you didn’t take part in. Remember those things I was complaining about above? Not doing any work on the project or saying you’d do work and then not doing it? That bothers me, but what really gets at me is when those people, those same freaking people have the audacity to complain about the grade we received. I don’t care -who- you’re complaining to, whether it’s the teacher or it’s to your group members, but if you didn’t do anything in the project and made everyone else pick up the slack for you, you have zero right to say -anything- about the grade we received. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not even your project. It just happens to have your name on it, because we’re nice or because the teacher has a list of groups, but that doesn’t mean it’s your group. This reminds me of one of those children’s book stories. I think it was Clucky Duck or Hen or something bakes a cake? Or maybe it was bread. Anyway, this anthropomorphized hen is making some tasty bread and every time she asks for help with one of the steps [getting the grain, grinding it, making the flour, making the mix, baking it, etc], the other animals say they are too busy for some reason or another. Yet, when the confection, whatever it was, is done, they all come crawling out of the woodwork looking for a slice of the pie, both figuratively and literally. That’s what this reminds me of. You can’t claim ownership on something once it is finished. That’s ridiculous. Either you claim ownership of it from the point you get involved [usually the start] right to the end of your capability, or you sit back and don’t claim ownership. Heck, even partial help is fine. If you do something while the product is being created and don’t come crawling out at the end when everything is finished just so you can claim credit for something you had -no hand- in, then fine. I’ll be slightly annoyed, but I’ll be more understanding and less likely to want to box you into a corner, smack you upside the head, and scratch your name off the project.

The second thing that gets under my skin. About three or four sentences ago, I said something about having some hand in the project. I lied about being less annoyed. I’ll probably be even more annoyed or just as annoyed under certain conditions. See, here’s the magic of projects. Sometimes, you have this project that comes at the end of the year. Or maybe it’s in the middle of the term. Anyway, it’s important because it’s worth a large part of your grade [or it’s important for your promotion, or whatever the case may be, but my major experience in this is with school work]. So you get on it and give it attention and care, knowing that this is going to be your final for the class, worth a large percentage of your grade, or it’s your ‘semester project’, which is basically the same deal, a large percentage of your grade. So you and your group members get working [At this point, I’m going to take a moment to thank the individual who was with me for my semester project in Government, 5th Period 2nd Semester Senior Year. You are the best for falling in zero pitfalls and being an amazing partner, one of the best I have ever had. We ended up with a perfect score, and that doesn’t happen unless you, my partner, care and put in effort. I was and am honored to have been your project partner for our semester project in that class] – Yeah, nevermind to that last sentence. See, I felt so strongly about this one partner who did right by me, and I truly hope that she feels I did right by her, that it sticks in my mind above all other projects and project partners. It may have been the fact that it was a more recent project, or perhaps because it was a pair assignment and I don’t remember the situations where I had a good partner, but it was 2 of us in a group of 5, but she did right by me. I won’t ever forget that. She is the standard to which I hold myself now, because I was stunned and impressed. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not a super-genius. She’s not daft either, but she’s intelligent and clever, like I know most people can be but for some reason refuse to be. The best part, however, is that she really does try. I can tell she tries. This is probably a weird place to say it, but wow. It was beautiful.

Anyway, back to the old topic and moving away from that aside about my awesome project partner that restored my faith in project partners, imagine you and your group members get working. That is to say, you and one other group member, plus a third group member who does an average amount of work [while you and the first group member are picking up the slack of the remaining two group members]. It’s been a month since the project started and the two group members who weren’t working well continue to not work well. It’s either one of them or the other, or if you’re really unlucky, both at the same time. So it’s been a month, there’s two weeks left in the project, and you get an email that basically says, “Hey dude I need to take part in the final so I can get my grade and raise my GPA/be eligible for sports/be able to attend State College/etc”. You hope you’re being bullshitted, but no. 2 weeks before the project is completed [or before the final is there or whatever the case may be], your classmate “sees the light” and decides that he must get in on the action and get a good grade. But for the month before, who cares. It’s just now that he’s feeling threatened, he’s getting involved. Selfish interest, 100%. But this selfish interest isn’t one that started from the beginning. I’ll admit I’m fueled by selfish interest for most of my projects. I want a good grade, so I put in the effort for a reward that goes to me. Selfish enough, fine. The difference is that this group member’s selfish interest spawns later on in the ball game, and you have no idea if he has any idea what’s going on. He wants to take part, but at this point, now that you’ve started to figure things out, he jumps in and makes waves. Of course, there’s no saying no to this kid. I don’t think most people can go, “I don’t care if you fail this class and can’t go to San Jose State. You didn’t take part in the project from the start, your problem.” It’s a bit of a dirty trick if used intentionally, but it works. That really boils my blood sometimes.

But oh well, what can you do.

 

Bottom line of all of this is fairly simple. When you’re in a group, be part of the group please. You’ve got more to worry about than just yourself and your actions affect more than just yourself. Remember that image I posted aaaaaaaaaaaaalll the way at the top? Strive not to be the reason your group members believe the bottom pie chart is true.

Please and thank you~

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