Groupwork: heaven or hell?

One of the things that is an inevitable result of working in a PBL-setting is having to work together in a group. Some students like it, many wish it would die a horrible death as soon as possible. Just guess which side I, with my ultimate optimism and ‘love-peace-happiness’-attitude, belong to.

I can see the reasoning behind it, as working together is an integral part of society. In almost every setting you are forced to work together with other people to succeed in that what you have to do. A relationship, work, family, your spiritual new age anti depression group meetings etc. It is thus pretty important to teach skills to be able to manage yourself in a group setting.

That being said, I can’t help but feeling miserable in almost every form of groupwork. And the cool thing: almost every person I discuss this with, feels the same.  You feel like you could do way better by just doing it on your own. And that it is you that puts in way more work than other people. And that you are more efficient in how you do your work. Well you are just 100% more awesome than other people anyway.

Now I’m well aware of the psychological bias that causes people to think this (people think they are better than the average in general), but I’m going on with this rant anyway.

Groupwork is pretty frustrating when personalities and/or work-styles don’t match, especially when you yourself put productivity and efficiency as some people put religion. Add inflexible time-schedules and time constraints in general to the ordeal and you know you are in for a treat. But what purpose does teaching students how to work in a group serve, when everyone and everything is to each others liking? If the world would be filled with people who fit your personality like a charm, than teaching people to work together would be as redundant as showing a musician how his own instrument works.

And thus there will mostly be two outcomes: you either work with people that fit your pretty perfect picture and will not learn as much from groupwork as you should or you will grow a passionate hate for each other but have to use every resource available to make this thing happen (and thus learn way more on group dynamics). I leave it up to you to decide which one of the two you eventually would prefer..