To be honest, I really hated working in a group. This was not simply limited to programming projects. I preferred working alone. I always tried to stay away from any kinds of group work activities when I first got here. Perhaps it's because for most of my life, I was educated in a country where group work happens very rarely at schools and individual achievement is considered way much more important than group wise achievements. Now I am in the states and it seems like almost every single class I took had some sort of group projects. At first it was tough to dedicate myself to a group work. I definitely learned many benefits of group work but I still think there are many challenges. So here on my second blog I would like to discuss the challenges of group working.
First challenge is rather physical. I am a shy person and I don't feel comfortable talking with new people whom I don't really know well. And it takes time to know each other and that can be a big time waste and sometimes it is very frustrating. When I work alone I only need to struggle with a machine. When I am working with partners there will be many more things added beside my buggy codes. I will have to arrange a new time to meet the partner if he or she does not show up. I will have to get angry if my partner has a big exam coming and he can't do anything until he's done with exam. Many social and physical problems can occur when working in a group.
In one class I had two partners one from India and one from Somalia, before the group meeting I was starving so I ordered a pizza. When they came I offered the pizza and they all got offended by my kind offer. Both of them could not eat certain meat(can't remember the exact topping). I couldn't understand their response because first I was ignorant of other cultures and second I am Korean who can eat anything, even dog meats (don't get offended if you are a pet lover, we don't eat pets neither and I have a cute pet as well and I or my family didn't eat her for 12years). Again these kind of issues would have never occurred if I was working alone.
Second challenge comes if two partners have different programming background or different level of experience. I once had a partner who had a great programming background. He seemed to know everything about the labs and projects and I just felt so useless sitting next to him watching him typing codes that I can't really understand. All I did for the group work was to write some comments or to edit the code so it looks pretty with proper line breaks and indentations. Oh and I also had a great chance to tar and submit the project. This was a big challenge for me. On one side I was happy that I didn't have to worry about getting good grades on labs and projects but on the other hand I was unhappy because I didn't learn.
There are many challenges when working in a group. However I think if partners have similar skill levels, group work will give great benefits. Our first iteration was kind of small to bring out the benefits of group working. I look forward as projects get longer and harder. Our group will overcome the challenges and use the benefits of group working as much as possible.