In my past teaching life, the greatest number of complaints I heard from students involved group assignments. Most students dreaded being paired with their peers. Some students said their peers were lazy, disorganized or freeloaders who weren’t responsible enough to carry out the assignment. We all know and experience these chaotic moments in our lives, and students nowadays are no different.
Whatever resistance you encounter regarding work in group settings, know that such assignments can benefit the class. Working within a group or on a team is a necessary and valuable skill in today’s job market, one that employers seek in job applicants and employees. Group assignments help students develop the important skills they need to have a competitive advantage in the job market.
The student must realize that the academic world is preparation for the real world, and the skills they learn during these types of assignments will benefit them as they enter the working world.
Group assignments help build the interpersonal skills necessary to becoming a successful leader, problem-solver, critical thinker and good communicator.
The skills I’m referring to are called “soft skills”. Some people naturally have them; others don’t always know how to interact with others or how to effectively communicate with co-workers on work projects.
Perhaps your job requires you to collaborate with others from diverse cultures or know how to problem solve. These are all valuable and transferable skills in the job market and are sought after by many employers. Students must be made aware that although having a professional skill – such as knowing how to code or having the great culinary skills – is important, they are not the only skills necessary to land that dream job. Employees also need soft skills to obtain and maintain employment. As mentioned, some people have them, and others never develop them fully. But group assignments give all students an opportunity to develop these skills. So, next time, embrace that group assignment. It may help you land and keep that dream job.
Derrick Darden, PhD (Triple D)
Fry, John P., “Procedures for Implementing Soft-Skill Training in CONARC Schools,” Paper presented at the CONARC Soft Skills Conference, Texas, 12-13 December 1972
Whitmore, Paul G.; Fry, John P., “Soft Skills: Definition, Behavioral Model Analysis, Training Procedures. Professional Paper 3-74.”, Research Report ERIC Number: ED158043, 48pp.