“Teamwork makes the dream work,” or does it?

Logan Katz, Contributing Writer

Group work is an ubiquitous practice in school, and teachers utilize it for a number of reasons. Putting students into small groups allows them to check their work amongst themselves, compare answers, and work collaboratively on assignments. Although teachers appreciate the value of group work, many students beg to differ.

“Group work is not productive. If you are in a group with friends, you get nothing done. If you are in a group with strangers, you can’t communicate,” said senior Eva Tamkin. “It’s a lose-lose situation.”

Other students see the value of group work but only when the group consists of qualified, equally hard-working members.

“It is good to work in groups sometimes when a group functions well and can collaborate, but not good when one person has to do all the work because other students do not end up pulling their own weight,” said senior Miranda Tanenbaum.

Students generally dislike group work, and those who do find it worthwhile think that it is only effective in certain situations. Self-motivated students usually prefer individual work because they do not want to be stuck with all of the responsibility of a project by themselves.

Teachers, on the other hand, see the educational value in incorporating group work into their lesson plans.

“I definitely think group work is a positive thing for students,” said math teacher Mrs. Emily Pillar. “It helps them see different ways of solving a problem and challenges them to defend their thought processes.”

As a math teacher, Mrs. Pillar does not assign group projects or assignments, but she does utilize groups to check work or help students reinforce their knowledge of new or more advanced topics. In other classes, group work can be helpful in other ways.

“Group work has advantages, like in Psychology when we do experiments of activities, I need to use group work, and the kids usually seem to enjoy it,” said social studies department chair and psychology teacher Mr. Lawrence Schultz.

Mr. Schultz uses groups so that students can discuss the material amongst themselves, and they don’t have to worry about being graded on group assignments.  It seems that students prefer group work to individual work when it will not affect their grade in the class. People do not want to do all of the work or have to collaborate with people they don’t know very well, but when a group is productive and enjoyable, students tend to have a more positive experience with group work.

Group work promotes important real-life skills. Once students graduate from high school, they will need to learn how to work both alone and with others.

“I believe there is great value to both group and individual work as collaboration is often a key element in work and life while the ability to individually focus is important as well,” said guidance counselor Mr. Lorge.

Whether you enjoy it or not, group work is a necessary life skill, and we all have to learn to make group work work for us.