Given the fact that group projects assigned at school are targeted towards creating bonds between students and teaching them how to work in a corporate environment, group projects have a lot in common with group incentive plans. In a corporate setting, an employee incentive plan encourages the workers to work together for achieving a particular goal (McQuerrey, n.d., para. 1). The motivation for them is being rewarded for the efforts, thus, everyone is trying to push their limits. A group assignment at school or college is rewarded by grades, which, of course, can be motivating to some students and have no actual value to others.
Similarities between Group Projects and Incentive Plans
The approach of the incentive plan is instrumental in building a stronger team as well as encourage the brainstorming for new innovative ideas. Every single employee in the group knows that he or she must bring to the table everything they own for their team to reach success. A similar phenomenon occurs in the group project, encouragement and the positive peer pressure make some individuals who are not prone to hard work to be inventive and communicative. On the other hand, like in the workplace, low-performing students can feel negative pressure from their classmates or teachers that would push them to the levels that are far from their comfort zone.
The Issue of Free-Riding
The free-riding in a group project means that despite some individuals being very passive in a group project, they get a good mark because the group as a whole, did well. On the other hand, a free-rider can be present in any setting, for example, a free rider is a person that sneaks to the basketball game without paying for the ticket. This can be applied to the group project as well – a student is a member of a group that did extremely well on the assignment, but he or she did not ‘pay for the ticket’ by contributing to the group work.
To eliminate free-riding in a group project, it is advisable to use the assessment methods to check whether all group members have understood the assigned project and had an equal contribution to it. A secon option is peer assessment within the group itself, which helps with the better understanding of the project and a sense of mutuality between all contributors (Börjesson et al., n.d., p. 2).
Other Group Project Disadvantages
There is evidence that the rewards given at the end of the incentive plan do not make group members to commit to their job. They only work hard in a team to get a reward and then forget about it. The same way it is with group projects in schools or other settings – everyone is working very hard to get a good grade or other benefit and after the goal is reached, the hard work stops. Moreover, there is a possibility of tension between various groups that compete. This tension can then transform into the ruptured relationships between co-workers or classmates.
To conclude, group projects have some similarities to the incentive plans. The outcomes of both types of teamwork can be positive or negative depending on the personalities involved, the reward system as well as the goals that should be achieved. Free-riding is an issue that should not be tolerated in a group setting, thus, to eliminate it, a fair reward system should be introduced along with the establishing of various assessments outside and inside the working team.
Börjesson P., Hamidian, A., Kubilinskas, E., Richter, U., Weyns, K., Ödling, P. (n.d.). Free-Riding in Group Work – Mechanisms and Countermeasures. Web.
McQuerrey, L. (n.d.). What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Incentive Plans? Web.