It is the beginning of English class. You walk towards your familiar seat, but before you are able to sit down, your teacher announces that your class will start a new project based on the book you just finished reading. You sit down, unzip your backpack and search for your pen. All of a sudden, your body stops and you can feel your heart drumming in your chest. Everything goes silent and you start to panic internally. Why? Because your teacher just said the forbidden “g” word: Group.
Yes, you were assigned a group project! If you don't like working in groups because you're an introvert or afraid of doing all the work, I'm sorry, but you have a severe case of grouphobia. Don't worry, it is not contagious, but it is hard to overcome.
Throughout high school, teachers encourage students to work in groups. Working in groups has been proven to have many positive effects on students. According to The Center of Innovation in Research and Teaching, students are able to “develop communication and teamwork skills” and “plan more effectively and manage their time.”
However, not many students are able to see or experience such benefits and do not enjoy working with others. Wanjing Li, a senior at John D. O’Bryant, does not like working in groups. “In most of the groups that I have been a part of, it has been very awkward since we are all strangers,” she said. “No one really knows each other, so it’s hard to communicate with the other group members.” Li feels that familiarity with group members is key. “If I am in a group with a friend, then I will do what I need to do with ease,” she said. “There are no complications since I am able to communicate with other group members through my friend. I am not alone.”
Michelle Cho, a senior at John D. O’Bryant, remembers a time when her group project derailed thanks to lack of communication. “There was a time in physics class when we was assigned to give a presentation using Google slides, and the other members of my group changed my slides without permission and didn’t tell me about it til the day of,” she remembered.
Now the question that most people with grouphobia have is: Why do I even have to learn to work in groups? Well the truth is, group work doesn’t go away when you graduate high school. Alexandria Fischer, a pre-vet sophomore majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry at Northland College in Wisconsin, says that group projects still happen in college. However, she also says it’s a little easier to manage tricky group situations when you have strong relationships with your teachers. “If you have a problem with a group member not helping or doing bad quality work, you can bring it to your professor and talk about with them,” she said. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that in high school, Fischer suggests trying to take charge of your group. “To students who usually have to do all the work on a project, just do your best work,” she said. “I've also found that if I ‘assign’ aspects of a project to others in a group and hold them responsible for those parts, it's a lot less stressful.”
So, those of you with grouphobia, fear not—there are solutions that can make group work a little less painful. There’s no need to fear the “g” word when you have clear strategies in mind.