Stop calling group work ‘collaboration’ because it rarely is

Maddie Zeller, Editorialist

Have you ever noticed that some students are not expected to bring the same level of quality to their work that others are? This is a problem that is grappling not only Greeley West, but schools across the country.

Throughout my school experience, I have always been deemed “the exemplary student” of the class. This has been a continual source of frustration when it comes to collaborative learning because my classmates rely on me to do their work – particularly when I’m placed with lower achieving students. I know that I can’t be the only student who feels this way. Holding different expectations based on past classroom performance is detrimental to education. 

Collaboration is never really there in Greeley West classrooms.  There is always one person who takes on the sole responsibility of completion, yet everyone gets their fair share of credit when grades are given. In a society where independence is necessary, students do not gain this skill during their formative years. I feel that this method of learning has to change. 

Students who lean on the work of high achievers will have limited capabilities in navigating this modern world. Teachers also are unable to get a grip on the needs of their students because my work does not reflect my partners’ work or knowledge. Although it is important to instill collaboration skills, it is even more important to instill independently motivated work ethic. Collaborative work doesn’t do that when groups are chosen for students. If a student like myself is not allowed to work with high-performing peers, I would rather just work by myself.

School administration and teachers have to create a learning environment that holds each student accountable for their actions, yet encourages opportunities for future success. More importantly, students have to be encouraged to do better and this cannot be done in mixed-level groups.