So in my current class we have a very large group project that runs for most of the semester. We turned in the paper (47 pages!) before spring break and then did our presentation today. It was probably the worst presentation I have given in over 10 years. Why? Lack of preparation and practice.
Most of you have participated in group projects. You are most likely one of three kinds of people:
- Type A personality – needs to be in control, takes charge of the project, assigns roles to other members, must be the last one to touch it before it gets turned in
- Follower – happy to do whatever is assigned to you, put in the minimum amount of work to get the grade you want, “good enough is good enough”
- Lackluster – not really happy about the project, happy to do your own thing, don’t need to meet to get it done, glad to let others pull the weight
So my group had two 1′s, a 2, and a 3. This was very evident in the paper writing, but exceptionally clear in the presentation. Presentation was written by the two 1′s, edited once by the 2, and I don’t think the 3 ever even looked at the presentation, just stood up and “winged it.” Now the discouraging part is that every team member gets the same grade for the project.
A couple of lessons in this for a graduate student. The first one (that I’m trying to learn) is that grades for classes in the PhD program don’t matter. As long as you get the minimum (which at Georgia Tech means more A’s than B’s) it’s fine. So I suppose I will have to be happy with a B. The second lesson is that you have to learn to work with all different kinds of people and still be able to pull the best out of them. I feel like the presentation was my fault because honestly I didn’t put as much work into it as I should have. I didn’t force everyone to get together and practice. And it showed.
I’m trying to take my experiences as a grad student and learn something from each one. From this class I have gotten to practice my writing skills. Next group project I’ll work more on the presentation and group dynamic skills.