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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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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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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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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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 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
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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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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