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How group assignments reveal individual traits

group work

Group work in campuses is always interesting. In my class, I noticed one thing: when a lecturer gives group work, the students at the back usually rejoice whereas the students at the front usually sulk at the idea. The mentality is that students at the front are usually brighter and feel that group works give average students free rides. I disagree.

The front-of-the-class students are also perceived to be more competitive. I agree. It takes a lot of competitiveness to maintain sitting at the front two rows of each lecture in a class of over a hundred people.

I personally sit close to the back or the middle. Last semester, I made attempts to sit at the front two times but failed. During the first attempt, a muscular lady pushed me away before I could settle on a seat. Before I could even turn to find another seat, all the front rows were full. The second time I tried, I was stepped on by a high heeler. So I gave up. Too much competitiveness.

One advantage I get by sitting close to the back is that I score numerous points in the eyes of the ladies. I get to answer a lot of questions and even the ladies at the front turn their heads to see the bright guy with a commanding voice at the back of the class. As a result, I get invites into a group with bright ladies and it’s always a pleasure

So which kinds of students usually emerge in group work?


The attention-seeker

This guy will work and rack his brains off to keep the ladies in the group impressed. He will volunteer to be the group leader and always try to crack up some jokes.  He’ll do his best to show how he is super bright and overshadow every other guy in the group. The problem is that ladies don’t like men who try so hard to impress. Sadly, men never learn.


The one man army

This student usually defines himself in two scenarios. When the group is coming up with a variety of conflicting ideas, he will take the mantle and makes sure his idea gets the last stamp because he is confident and knowledgeable. When the group members are incompetent or uncooperative, he might actually decide to do all the work. That’s okay, but there’s one problem. Sometimes the confident captain usually drives the Titanic into the iceberg, sinking it instantly.


The joker

The joker is usually very annoying. At some point in first year there were eight jokers in our group of ten so we ended up as a group of two literally.  It was a pretty heavy burden but thank God all went well.  Jokers usually get into groups that consist of close friends so that they aren’t left out no matter what.


The free rider

The free rider won’t miss any group session but won’t contribute anything either. This is the kind of student that revels in the knowledge of others. He’s more of the yes man. His responses are usually, “Aha! Yes! I agree! That’s good! I’m not so sure! Mmmmm,” and a whole load of other forms of crap.


The ghost worker

In life, it’s always good to have connections. In group work, the ghost worker is usually the connection. When a group is having difficulty with the task, one member with connections can source already completed work from elsewhere. Some minor alterations are then made and before you say abracadabra, the job is done. Ghost students are rarely seen during group discussions or lectures, or anywhere else in campus except during exams.

If we get back to the issue of class divisions, we realize that nobody really loves group work that much. The front students usually sulk because they excel in personal assessment while the back students usually rejoice because at least the work will be shared or done by others.



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