Andrus: Group Projects Suck


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Man having tantrum during meeting

John Andrus

Our first week is almost finished. After today, it’s just one more day (and who goes to class on Friday anyway?). We’ve all looked over our syllabi and filled out our calendars. We are ready to really dedicate ourselves and make the Dean’s list, so mom and dad will leave us alone when we slack off in the spring. However, there could be a major barrier standing in our way to getting that 4.0.

Group projects.

Don’t get me wrong here. Group projects have their place in education. Once we enter the workforce, we must have the skills to interact with our fellow employees in order to complete a task quickly and efficiently for our employer. However, there is a major difference between working in groups to complete projects in school vs. during our professional career.

Namely in the workplace you can fire the dude that makes Jeff Lebowski seem like a workaholic.

Herein lies the problem with group projects at Iowa State – or any university for that matter – people are generally selfish and lazy. In your group projects this semester you will have one of three different types of people.

1) The “Terminator”. This person will perform the bulk of the work. Not only will they show up to all the meetings, they will be pissed if anyone is 5 minutes late. They send a lot of emails. They will also harass you all weekend when you’ve already agreed to turn in your section of the project on Monday.

Much like Arnold in his most iconic role: It. Will. Not. Stop.

Now, I’m not saying that this is good or bad. (It’s bad) But in fairness, they are like this because they have to rely on the rest of the group to get the grade they want. You will spot this person quickly during your first group meeting.

2) The “Dude”, from the previously mentioned Big Lebowski. This person is “ok” with everything. You won’t get any complaints and more importantly, you won’t get one single idea. There will be no creativity, and the absolute bare-minimum of effort. When you break up the assignment, they will say “fine” or the always appreciated “whatever”, and every section of the project they do will be exactly “C” quality. Expect nothing more, and nothing less. This person is wonderful at parties, but terrible in group projects, since you’ll be redoing all of their work prior to turning it in.

And finally,

3) The “Gob”. For anyone not familiar with Arrested Development – easily the best TV show ever produced – you pronounce that like the Biblical figure or really weird character from that early 90’s sci-fi movie Lawnmower Man, Job (pronounced ‘Jobe’).

This is the student that will blow a ton of smoke. They have a big personality and will tell everyone how they are an expert on everything, then when it comes time to actually do the work; they are mysteriously absent and end up driving their Segway to the mall.

You really have to be careful of this boisterous person. Never assign them something important, because you will find out at the last minute that they haven’t even started on their section, they’ll come up with a super great excuse, and then ask you to “just finish it up, quick. No big deal”. If you know this going in, and are expecting it, then you won’t pull your hair out when it happens, because it will.

So please — I beg of you — look closely over your calendar for the entire semester, and plan way ahead, because if you’re planning on getting help on that “group” project that your creative professor thought would be fun, your mom and dad are going to be pissed when the grade report comes in mid-December.