Group Projects: Friend or Foe?


Indu Vaddiparti

It is common for teachers to assign group activities such as projects and presentations. Many students enjoy working with peers and collaborating with them on school tasks. On the contrary, many students prefer to work alone. Both methods have positive and negative aspects. According to Carnegie Mellon University,  teamwork is crucial for success because it gives students the ability to develop communication skills, manage time, and share knowledge and perspectives. On the other hand, working alone may be more efficient, as the issues of fooling around or having distracting group members do not exist in a solo environment.  In fact, studies show that individual work allows students to gain independence, formulate their own thoughts and ideas, and practice self-control. Furthermore, there is no issue of certain group members taking the whole load of work, while others utilize work time as their nap time.

Group work is an essential part of AP Seminar, a class required for the MAGNET Program. As part of AP Seminar, students are obligated to work in groups of four to research and build an argument regarding a controversial topic. Students appreciate working together, as they can use each other’s guidance to create the best outcome they can. Lea Palm, a student in this class said, “Working in a group allowed me to bounce ideas off of other people and accept guidance from my peers, and give them guidance as well.” Even Morris Hills principal, Mr. Toriello, supports this belief, stating that “While individual work is important, collaboration has the greatest value.”

However, many students in the class would have preferred to work individually, because doing so would have allowed them more freedom to conduct their research. AP Seminar student Anoshia Khan stated, “I was worried about having to rely on others and wasn’t sure if they would pull off their part of the project.”

In a survey, a majority of students said they would prefer to work independently on important projects. Meanwhile, a minority of students believe that working in a group environment is a better form of completing projects. As MH student Sonal Butala said, “Although group work offers students the opportunity for collaboration of ideas, it can often create improper expectations regarding work completion.” It is clear to see that students here at Morris Hills are more partial to individual work at school.