Mandatory group projects
Even though I am a teacher I am asking this question as a parent. In several of my son's classes over the last several years there seems to be more and more mandatory group work. I have no problem with students completing projects as part of a group, it's good practice for life. However the problem arises when they must complete these projects outside of school. Nowadays it is almost impossible to find a good time for everyone in a group to get together to work on said project (even in the adult world we encounter this problem) between the various extracurricular activities and various family commitments and timelines. Then you have the problem of some students doing all the work and other students doing none of the work yet riding on the coattails of their classmates. My son's grades have suffered dramatically as a result of this practice. He struggled through this scenario this past semester in Biology. His grades remained in the D range all semester, sometimes they would get dangerously close to an F. He then aced his semester final but was still left with a D as a final semester grade.
Like I said in my previous paragraph I see where there is merit to group work if handled properly. Because of how busy we have become as a society I feel the majority of the so called "group work" should be completed during school hours. There should also be some way to grade students individually within the group for their contributions to the overall project.
As a teacher I can understand why teachers assign group work. It makes their grading so much easier and as a teacher I can appreciate that. My guess is that many of his teacher's are new to the profession and are for one trying to keep the grading light for their own sanity and for two are trying to incorporate cooperative learning and project based work into their classrooms. However, they lack the experience necessary to teach effectively in this manner.
However, because I am used to teaching younger students I am willing to admit that maybe there is more at work here then what I am able to see. In other words, am I missing something? Any feedback would be appreciated.