Recently, I was placed in a group of four to collectively write a paper for my writing class. The task was to write about a book we had read. We approached the task by designating each member a portion of the book to write about. One member was particularly excited to analyze and put together the paper. When brainstorming ideas, he took charge of organizing an outline and writing down ideas. In the end, he ended up writing the whole paper while my other two partners and I did nothing; however, we did not mind.
My other two partners and I would have contributed much more to the project if we were not in a group. We felt as though we were less responsible for the final project because it didn't solely depend on our work, so we did not make an effort to work any more or any better. This situation reminded me of a concept I had recently read about in my textbook: social loafing. Social loafing occurs when specific individuals do not utilize their full productivity potential within groups.
The United States is such an individualistic country that I wonder why so many projects and tasks assigned in schools are group-oriented. These types of tasks may work in other collectivist countries, but they don't seem to work here because social loafing occurs most in individualistic societies. Students in our society do more work and learn more when they are on their own. So, wouldn't the education system be better off if teachers assigned more tasks to individuals rather than groups?