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April 25, 2012

I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the collaborative work that we did this semester.  There were many ups and downs this semester in terms of working as a group, and there is a lot that I have learned in the process of working on the assigned projects for this class.

Collaboration first really came into action in this class when we worked on our digital rhetorical analysis paper.  That was a good experience for me, because each group member contributed equally, and we were able to write a strong paper.  Everyone understood their responsibilities and took care of what they promised they would do.  We ended up getting a high grade on the essay.

The next major assignment was the white paper.  The white paper was the major assignment for the semester, or at least that is what I saw as the biggest challenge in the class for the semester.  For this project, we tagged on another partner to our group of three that worked on the digital rhetorical analysis essay.  I was rather disappointed in the contributions, or lack thereof, from one of the members of my group (not the new member), whose name I will not reveal on this blog. While three of us were writing the proposal on a google doc, the unnamed fourth group member decided that because we reached the minimum page length requirement, he would no longer need to write his part.  This was particularly frustrating because the rest of us put in the time to plan out this assignment.  However, it was just the proposal, so I did not want to put much weight behind that.  The next process was the rough draft.  All of us in the group put less effort than we could have into the first draft, but the unnamed group member actually copied and pasted parts from the proposal, which he had no part in writing, and claimed them as his contributions to the draft.  I did not appreciate that at all, but because this was just a rough draft and nobody had worked particularly hard on the draft anyway.  Yet as the deadline for the final draft approached, and we were running out of time to meet as a group, we decided on a time to meet.  The unnamed fourth group member could not make it to the scheduled meeting time for whatever reason (not specified), so he decided to contribute individually.  There were at least 1,000 of the minimum 5,500 words in his part with some statistics scattered here and there, which was a fairly significant contribution.  Considering that there were at least 4,500 words, pictures, formatting, and revising and editing that needed to be done between three people, I felt that the fourth group member did not necessarily contribute as he could have for the paper.  The three of us who were able to attend the meeting, and who have our own busy schedules as well, met for roughly eight and a half hours to finish the entire project the day before the deadline.  We worked hard and received a high grade on the paper, so I was happy to see that the effort paid off.  Recently, when we received our grades, the fourth group member complained about how long and difficult the night before the deadline had been working on this paper.  This was irritating to hear considering the one complaining did not even attend the meeting at all.  From this, I learned that even when one person does not carry their weight in a group project, the rest of the group must be responsible and step up their contributions in order to have the best collective performance.  In group work, we are not graded or judged as individuals, because the final product is all that matters.

The next assignment was the presentation.  While I admit I was very minimally involved in our social movement campaign presentation due to my very busy week, I had done extensive research on everything that was included in the presentation while we were writing the whit paper itself.  I was ready to present and discuss our digital solution to the problem proposed in the white paper.  I had no problems as far as being on the same page as the rest of my group.  This was the assignment I felt bad that I did not contribute as much to, but in retrospect, most of our presentation was taken from what we wrote about in the white paper, so I did actually do a fair share of work in creating and preparing the presentation.

Finally, there was the digital solution to our problem.  We had decided that the unnamed fourth group member would have a larger role in this because of his expertise in creating websites.  However, when three of us were working on the proposal and draft of the assignment, he was doing homework for other classes and surfing the internet.  At this point, from working on various assignments with this parter, I was frustrated with the lack of cooperation on his end.  He had almost no part in creating the website, and he cancelled a scheduled meeting at the last minute due to prior engagements.  I feel that he should have known he had other obligations before deciding on a meeting time with us to save us all from the last minute cancellation hours before we were scheduled to meet, but it’s not my place to question someone else’s responsibility. The three of us who had worked on the white paper together were again stuck working on the major content of the assignment.  I found it very fitting that when making our final presentation where we also displayed our website, that the same three of us who had been working hard all along, were the three that dressed up professionally for the presentation.

I do not mean to sound so bitter about the way that one person acted during the semester.  I really don’t mean to “throw anyone under the bus,” so to speak.  It’s just frustrating to see some group members ride the pine and rely on others to receive good grades.  It doesn’t bother me so much anymore because I know that the attitude and approach that I have taken will allow me to be successful in my future endeavors.  This blog is my space to explain what I learned about collaboration and group work.  I worked very well with the others in my group and we all contributed equally in each assignment.  It was a great challenge and opportunity for myself, as well as the two other group members, to deal with a problem with another group member and still work hard to create a great final product.  It is not in my nature to only worry about my own part, so I know this experience will serve me well in the future, when I inevitably end up in a similar position.  Collaboration is crucial in working in a business, and I’m glad that I was able to learn so much, both through positive and negative experiences this semester, so that I can grow and improve for the future.


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