new topic, working in groups

Kristie Allen kla at RIVERS.OSCS.MONTANA.EDU
Wed Jun 26 17:15:25 EST 1996


A good way to penalize slackers in a group working environment was shown 
to me in an assignment in undergrad school.  We had randonly assigned 
groups so we didn't get to be with students with similar goals (as Jim 
says below).  Part of the assignment, however, was to assign a rank to 
the effort the other group members had done on the project, thereby 
showing the instructor who the real workers were.  Aside from a little 
fudging by the "slackers" the teacher could determine appropriate grades 
for each of the students.  This would also contribute to a good working 
atmosphere among group members.  You knew you had to contribute and be 
vocal about it so you could get good scores from the other members.

My 2 cents (since when don't keyboards have a "cent" symbol?  I've never 
noticed the disappearance!).

Kristie L. Allen
Environmental Statistics Group
Biology Department
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT  59715   USA

Phone:  (406) 994-2332
E-mail:  kla at
On Mon, 24 Jun 1996, James C. Phillips wrote:

Jim wrote: 
> The problem comes with tasks that are graded on a sliding scale.
> Then everyone has different goals which leads to problems.  As a 
> prime example, suppose half the group is happy with a C on a 
> project while the other half wants an A.  Suppose an A is twice as
> much work as a C.  Then the amount of work the C people think is 
> fair will only be half as much as the A people.  In this case, the
> A people will have to do half again as much work as they think is
> fair to get an A on the project, three times what the C people
> will be willing to do!
> Thus, working in groups is OK as long as people are allowed to pick
> their groups among people with similar standards.  The worst thing
> (IMHO) that a teacher can do is to randomly shuffle the groups to
> "split up the smart people".  This makes the hard-workers miserable
> and teaches the slackers that they can get by on the work of others.
> For an alternate take on the subject, read "The Dilbert Principle"
> by Scott Adams.  His theory is simpler: people are idiots.  :-)
> -Jim
>  jcphill at

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