Group Papers

I have discovered something worse than group projects: group papers. 

The first time a professor assigned one, I thought maybe it was a fluke. Like, he did not think through what he was asking and accidentally assigned 4 of us to write 1 paper instead of 1 of us writing 4 papers or something. But now I know better. I think I have had a group paper due in every single class.

To put it mildly…I am not a fan.

Think of all the hassle of a group project. Now imagine the stress of writing a paper. Put them together. 

99.9% of the time I look at our finished work and think, “I do not want to put my name on that.” 

To give credit to my classmates, they are undergraduates and English is their secondary language. I admire them for trying. They do their best.

But besides being a native English speaker and grad student, I am a trained legal writer and editor. I expect more from myself and any work I turn in. 

It creates a difficult tension. On the one hand, I am stressed because I just read through my classmates’ writing three times and I’m still not sure what they are saying. At the same time, outside of completely rewriting everything, there is not much I can do to change it. Helpful hints only go so far when your audience does not see a problem. 

It does not help any that we have not gotten back any grades for group papers yet. I just keep telling myself, “Surely the professors cannot expect more than what your classmates are turning in. This must be the norm.” Right? Right?


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