—Josiah Huband, Staff Writer—
Project based learning has been a part of the teaching curriculum in Chesterfield County for years now in an attempt to help students learn independently through problem solving and critical thinking. All core classes assign them, while some elective courses utilize them as well. Some teachers allow students to complete these projects individually, while others label them as group projects. While there are advantages to each, they also have disadvantages. This ultimately leaves people to wonder: which one is better?
Divide and conquer. This is the strategy that students master and teachers despise. However, it is a route that is recommended on group projects to ensure every member of the group does a fair amount of work. While most students are trustworthy and do their job, there is always one or two members of the group that are lazy and unreliable. This is completely unfair because their group members are suffering due to their lack of effort. Lazy students leave the competent ones to scramble at the end of a project to complete the work that they failed to do. Ultimately, it shows in the finished product, and the whole group gets points taken off. The guilty party does suffer more though because the other members can give a bad report. Still, it leaves people wondering if they could’ve done better on their own. Despite this disadvantage, group projects can teach students how to work as a team. They give students an opportunity to learn how to lead in a classroom setting and get an assignment done through cooperation. They also teach students how to adjust to situations when one member drops the ball.
Although it result in a heavier workload for each individual, working on a project by yourself can be very beneficial. If the goal of PBL’s is to make students more independent, then group projects do not help nearly as much as solo projects. Working individually teaches students how to manage time and avoid procrastination which are two traits that will benefit them in college, the military, or the workforce. This also puts the projects on one person’s shoulders. For the competent student, this is a good thing. They no longer have to rely on the unreliable and they can earn the grade that they believe they deserve. For the lazy student, this might make life difficult because they can no longer put their work off until someone else does it. Whether the student is lazy or not, working individually gives them the grade that they earn and deserve instead of the grade that someone else earns for them.
So… Which one is better?
Despite the advantages to group projects, I think working individually presents better benefits. Working alone teaches students how to manage their time, which will help them more in college than learning how to work in a group. I think that teachers should assign more individual projects and move away from group projects in the future.