Should student groups be allowed to fire members?

Photo Credit: Sparklefish

It is without question that we want to provide our students with as much practical experience as possible, but where should we draw the line. I am all for practical experience when it comes to student groups, yet, I think some courses are more conducive to being allowed to fire a group member than others. For example, the capstone courses in a degree program as these courses are typically designed for students to work as a firm. Also, courses such as Corporate PR or PR Firms where students work in groups designed to mimic working in public relations departments or firms.

So, should the opportunity to fire a group member be presented for any class where students work in groups, or just courses where students work for clients? Sure there are several pros to the option of being allowed to fire a group member, such as

  • Opportunity to hone or learn conflict management skills
  • Ideally higher commitment from team members
  • More say-so over how the team operates
  • Ability to deal with internal politics
  • Option to drop “dead weight”

Of course with positives there are always negatives, such as

  • Firing because of the inability to get beyond the clash of personalities
  • Firing because “majority rules” or because the option is present
  • Firing because of the inability or desire to reconcile differences

I am all for the option of firing, yet it is when these options should be afforded that is my hang-up. Should class content drive the decision or just the fact that it is a group project?

Your thoughts?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Should student groups be allowed to fire members?

  1. Justin Jurgensen

    I like the way you conduct your group projects Mrs. Andrews, it makes the student takes what it needs in the real world to take charge and gives appropriate relevance to how people will react in that/those situations…….

    • uandrews

      I would hope most students see it that way, but I’m realizing this understanding is more common among upper-level students that see the working world around corner.

  2. Haley Higgs

    From a student point-of-view, I find myself wanting to say that firing should be allowed in every group project. But from a rational point-of-view, I would have to say class content has to be considered. As painful as group work can be in lower level classes, in the “real world” you’re going to have to deal with people you don’t like or people you clash with. My advice, deal with it! In the career field you can’t always pick and choose your co-workers. You will have to figure out a way to work through your differences.

    That being said, I support firing in a capstone class. If a group member is slacking off or not pulling their weight and they are that close to graduating then they need to be hit with reality. No one is going to cover for them when their boss wants something done, so why should the group members have to cover?

    • uandrews

      Thanks for weighing in. I agree that students should have an understanding of the material before they can decide whether or not a group member should remain in the group. But playing devils advocate, dead weight is dead weight regardless of the content.