My personal hell

Types of students in group work

We all dread that moment at the beginning of term when the lecturer says this magic word that creates a wave of desperation in the room: “presentations”. Yes, we all hate them. Not even all lecturers are convinced of these infamous presentations, as after them the presenters will be the only ones to know about the topic. We all try to be nice and not look too annoyed. But don’t we all feel the same? Or, at least most of us? Rumour has it that there are indeed some people out there who like presentations. Anyway, what’s even more dreadful for most of us is the lecturer telling us: “Work in groups of two or three.” Yay, exactly what I didn’t want to do. Let’s face it – we’re all much too different, some even misanthropic, to be able to really like this kind of work. There are so many types of group members that you wouldn’t want to come across that it seems almost impossible to be lucky for once and find THE partner that really is a joy to work with.

So, what kind of team players will you come across when doing presentations in a group? Let’s have a look at some of them…

The one that never has time

Just after the topics and partners have been assigned, you try to approach each other carefully and swap numbers to keep in touch. It’s clear that you’ve got to meet at least once. Rarely will you be able to do everything just online. It’s possible, but only with very few topics. So, the first hurdle is to find a time when you could meet.

Of course, you all assure each other that you’re flexible enough and will meet anytime there’s no other lecture. You start with Monday – doesn’t work, the sister’s friend’s cousin needs help attending their garden. Okay, how about Tuesday? Nah, doesn’t work, as there’s a shift at work. Sure, what’s with Wednesday? Uh, classes all day. Thursday? Your partner’s grandmother needs help with the cat’s appointment at the vet’s. Friday? Leaving for the whole weekend. Next week? Same procedure ….. “But I’m really flexible. I’m free almost every day.” Uhm, yeah. If you say so.

The one that decides everything

Hi, nice to meet you. I saw you in that lecture last term. You seem to be nice. That’s cool. Let’s get started. What’s your number? I know this topic. I’ve already done the research. How about we meet tomorrow morning at 7 am? Yes? Cool. Okay, I’ll do the Powerpoint. Well, I even started. I can send you the material. Found everything at the library and scanned it. I’ll send it to your mail. What’s your mail address? Oh, and I have a great source. We’re gonna use it. This will be so cool. You’ll see – the lecturer will be impressed. I’m really experienced with this. Oh, and don’t worry about the handout. I’ll do it. I’ve got a template. And I even prepared the outline of our presentation.” And you end up standing there, having done almost nothing for the presentation, not liking how it looks, not knowing what it’s even supposed to be about and trying to mumble a few words while your partner eagerly talks for thirty minutes straight.

The one that is a ghost

Sometimes you don’t get to choose who to work with. It’s a name you’ve come across several times, but you can’t seem to remember the corresponding face. Well, you figure you could just call out the name at the end of class. No answer, just people looking bewildered. Okay, contact the person on Digicampus. After your first message you receive no answer. You send another one the following week (there was another no-show in class) and – again – receive no answer. Your third mail gets you a short answer telling you that the person has been out of town and will gladly work with you. The time comes round and you wait where you wanted to meet. But you’re stood up. Next attempt – it’s just two weeks left until the presentation is due – yet again, another no-show. Now’s the time to get worried. You approach the lecturer and try to explain the situation. Mostly they show sympathy, but in the end you’ll just do the presentation on your own. Your partner’s identity shall forever remain a mystery.

Concept: Tobias Lorenz & Angie Czygann
Text: Angie Czygann
Picture: Niklas Schmidt