Pros and Cons of Collaboration from Kids on TAP

June 2, 2010 at 3:58 PM 1 comment

Today’s journals were for us to get a quick sense of which students had trouble so we could help resolve issues fairly to strengthen rather than break up friendship. We also got some sweet insights into collaboration that might be interesting to HR in corporations too 🙂

Group work fears:

The Hitch Hiker, The Flake, “My way or the highway’ Boss, The Dolt who has no ideas or doesn’t get it. The Grade Obsesser. The Blamer, The Perfectionist. Have we got ’em all? I start to worry which is me. No comments, Karen! Or Kurt (husband)!

The Pros of Collaboration

But on the other hand…

“Even though working alone was easier and faster, it was kind of boring.”

“… it was helpful to have someone make sure you were staying on task and working. Secondly, dividing the work level in half. Lastly, it was fun! … I’m very excited for this coming week (especially Open House)”

“XXXX is awesome! We worked together a mesh like two cogs.”

“..We both had different strengths which was a good thing. This allowed us to both successfully work in different areas of the assignment.”

“…sometimes you don’t get somethings and your partner does.”

Pros of working alone

“Working alone really helped me out so I didn’t have to go back and forth between houses and it was easier planning.”

“… in order to prevent conflicting schedules and because I usually do the work myself anyways because I want to get a good grade.”


“It was pretty equal. We had to give up some ideas that we liked for each other.”

“I already talked to my partner about this issue. Now it’s all cleared up. But, she did the (sponsored walk) without telling me.”

“I think you need to choose someone you like spending time with as your partner or else it would be no fun at all!” (She and her partner had a great time.)


This is an opportunity to help potential ‘mean girls’ learn how to assert themselves without being bitchy for a hurt that they were not able to mention directly. One girl said that she was unhappy with her partner and her partner said ‘I feel so bad about not doing my share.” she replied ‘Oh, that’s okay” but really it’s not. (She chose NOT to pursue this on balance.)

Several others mentioned conflict but managed to have those difficult conversations and save their friendships. “She never has ideas like I do. But she worked really hard.” And from her partner “I did most of the work but I she did the best she could.” I was impressed with the mature way that they resolved problems. Feels like I could learn from them 🙂

Where there is a real disparity of effort, we suggest that students ‘take it on the chin’ if they were not able to do their part for whatever reason, and suggest a grade cut themselves. It looks like students are NOT choosing to do this this year. Last year, we used that way to acknowledge uneven work a few times and it seemed to settle everyone down.

Have you found good ways to make collaboration go smoothly in projects you run? Let us know the tricks of the trade…


Entry filed under: Class Management, TAP Curriculum. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

TAP Poster Celebration Day! How to grade a million posters…

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kurt  |  June 3, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    In addition to the slacker and my-way-or-the-highway boss, there is another in between character who I would call the taking-my-ball-and-going-home team member who doesn’t like the group’s approach, but who doesn’t offer a compelling alternative, and sulks as a result.

    There are other positive members, such as a former classmate we called the Lotus Goddess because she was so good at spreadsheets and she was south asian. She was really good at her specialty, and she was happy to do all that work while the other team members contributed in other ways.

    As for working by yourself, as the projects get more interesting and more complicated, we find that no one knows enough to do it all by themselves.



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