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?