General Advice


Before you begin exploring the various types of problematic behaviors on teams, let’s explore five pieces of general advice for dealing with any kind of team behavior problem.
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The Free-Rider


Free-Riders on project teams are also known as “free-loaders” or “hitchhikers”.  Free-Riders do not contribute their fair share of effort to the project.  They are known as “Free-Riders” because they receive the same grade as the rest of the team without actually earning it. Free-Riders are perhaps the most common source of frustration on student project teams.  Researchers estimate that over 65% of college students have dealt with Free-Riders on group assignments.

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The Dictator


Let’s now look at the Dictator. On project teams, dictators strongly impose their ideas on other team members, using criticism and personal attacks to push the team in a particular direction.  According to researchers, the Dictator is the second most frustrating behavior type on group projects.
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The Closet Dictator


The Closet Dictator is a variant of the Dictator type. Closet Dictators also attempt to take control of group projects, but they do so behind the scenes. They change strategies, rewrite project reports, and alter presentation slides without consulting other team members. Sometimes their efforts result in a better grade, but more often Closet Dictators remove or revise critical material causing the final report or presentation to suffer.
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The Do-It-All


Another variant on the Dictator and Closet Dictator type is the Do-It-All.  Typically, a Do-It-All type assumes responsibility for most of the group project, conducts most of the research, and does almost all of the writing and editing.
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The Procrastinator


Probably the third most common frustration on project teams are Procrastinators. These are students who wait until the last minute to complete their portion of the project. As a result, their contribution is either late or a poor quality rush job.
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The Socializer


One of the best things about group assignments is the social aspect of teamwork.  The friendly banter, jokes, and support you get from teammates can energize the group and make the overall effort more enjoyable. Socializers can however, take the social aspects of team work to extremes and ultimately hurt group productivity.
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The Poor Student


On any group project team members will often have varying levels of educational experience and ability.  Some may be savvy researchers. Others may be strong writers.  However, a team may have a weak performer or Poor Student.

Poor Students are individuals who demonstrate drive, motivation and commitment.  They work hard and do their best to contribute but a Poor Student lacks the ability to produce at the level of the other team members.

The Poor Student finds it difficult to understand key concepts or group assignments.  After reading materials they struggle to identify the most relevant points for the project.

Sometimes, the Poor Students have good research skills but have trouble organizing information and writing.
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The Quiet Student


The Quiet Student is often the most underutilized resource on a project team. Students who appear quiet may have outstanding insights and natural abilities. The best teams find ways to tap a Quiet Student’s creative energies effectively.

Quiet Students are shy in group situations. They are often reluctant to share their opinions during project meetings and prefer to listen intently while others do most of the talking. However, sometimes the Quiet Student is silent to hide a lack of preparation or motivation for the project.
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The Complainer


Students often complain about group projects. While a little complaining can help to relieve stress and reinforce social bonds, too much complaining can result in project delays and poor group work.   Complainers are team members who spend more time complaining about a project than doing it. Complainers frequently begin by criticizing the professor's decision to assign a group project.

They are also bothered by the challenges of locating information, finding time to meet with teammates, and assembling the final product. Even simple things like the weather, room temperature, and upcoming exams can be sources of their complaints. However, Complainers fail to recognize the amount of time they waste discussing their issues during group meetings.
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