NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ788961
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb-22
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
A Failure to Collaborate
Sanders, Martin
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n24 pC2 Feb 2008
Based on a successful scholarly collaboration experience, the writer assigned a group project in a graduate seminar that confronted a wave of resentment. Small clusters of students were to tackle a multi-layered research assignment requiring textual decisions, bibliographic work, critical theory, historical research, and editorial design. As the deadline for the group projects drew nearer, protests grew louder, as the instructor's mailbox filled with calls for help and expressions of frustration, and the office was visited by students who expressed their grievances in person. In two of four groups, a project manager rose to stave off dysfunction and chaos, but having assumed the reins of careening projects, faced apathy or resentment on the part of group members who felt they were being micromanaged, or that the leader monopolized the project. The group leaders themselves, on their side, felt exploited by peers who dropped the ball on tasks ranging from data collection to formatting to writing. Members of a third group never jelled into a functioning unit, failing to agree on meeting dates and review. The most successful group did not have a group leader per se but named a coordinator who held the strings firmly enough to increase efficiency without creating an outright leader-follower dichotomy, and team members decided to create a product that demonstrated a diversity of opinion rather than a single vision. The writer concludes that liberal-arts programs seem to be doing an acceptable job of teaching students how to own their work, how to develop an individual voice, and how to be competitive achievers, but seem to be falling behind the curve when it comes to instilling the worth of a collaborative work ethic. Acknowledging that success in academe is based on achievement disparity and recognizing that a market economy is based on uneven development and that egalitarian education may be neither feasible nor necessarily desirable, the writer never the less points out that, as undergraduates enter the work force, many will be expected to function well in cooperative situations, to understand the dynamics of leadership and that to function well in a professional setting, one needs to be either a good leader or a good collaborator and that both undergraduate and graduate students should be encouraged to understand that successful work in many professions will be based on a symbiotic relationship between leadership and team work.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A