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Recently in one of my courses I have been assigned a task to be done in small groups (of 3 people). It turns out not to be too long (especially with some previous knowledge that I had), so over the course of an evening I have done roughly 60-70% of the work and the remainder would probably go even faster for me.

However the task was a group task, so I would feel that it could be quite inappropriate to just do all of the work and leave my other two friends nothing to do. I wouldn't like to make them feel left out and I wouldn't like to come across as a know-it-all. At the same time, I know that thanks to said experience not only will I need less time to complete the work, but also it is quite likely that the quality will be higher, potentially leading to a better grade and so benefiting all three of us.

Whatever I decide to do, I think I'll probably finish the task just for educational purposes, so the way I see it I can do one of those:

  1. Tell them that I have the task complete. Apart from the disadvantages mentioned above they may feel compelled to also do all of the work, but forcing them to do so is absolutely not what I intend--if they also want to do so for educational purposes then they are of course welcome to, but I'd prefer to avoid them feeling like they have to do more than their fair share of work.

  2. Pretend like I've only done some parts of the work and assign the "missing" pieces to them. First of all, lying about such matters seems to be a silly solution and also I feel like it could be easy to get caught and eithet be in worse position than 1) or have to lie more. Second of all, as I said when they complete their parts, it is possible that I'd feel obliged to make some changes to their work, potentially changing enough that it stops to look like their work, for us to get a better grade, which would be in all of us' best interest, but that would bring out some of the issues from 1)

How should I approach this topic, how should I communicate my ideas in the best possible way? Again, I don't want them to feel I treated them wrongly, but a the same time I wouldn't like our grade to suffer (in one of previous homework tasks I did give in even though I knew I was right at some points when discussing our solutions before turning them in, since I didn't want to come across as the smartass correcting everyone on everything, but our grade did turn out a bit lower then I would've gotten, had I turned all those tasks in by myself)

  • Does "especially with some previous knowledge that I had" mean that you did some extra courses, are more senior student, or something like this? Or how comes you are better than everybody else? ("Just smarter" might be a valid answer, too) – Mark Jan 1 '18 at 22:58
  • If you are more comfortable with this assignment you should review your peers work to assure the same quality as the one you can produce. They could learn from you and get a higher grade. – The Doctor Jan 2 '18 at 0:46
  • This question's unnecessarily wordy. If you rewrite it more concisely, folks'll be more liable to read it. – Nat Jan 2 '18 at 3:23
  • You also have to consider the teacher's perspective in this. They would probably not be too happy if they found out you did all the work and your classmates just put their names on it. The goal of the assignment is (presumably) to get you and your classmates to learn something, so make sure that they do. – Tom van der Zanden Jan 2 '18 at 7:14
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To directly address your question:

Should I do a group project on my own?

No. It is a group project, assigned as such and expected to be performed as such.

If so, how?

Not applicable.

As to your narrative:

...over the course of an evening I have done roughly 60-70% of the work and the remainder would probably go even faster for me.

That means you, and your group, are ahead of the game. That's a good position to be in. You have two choices:

  1. Complete the bare minimum (which is sounds as though you can do solely), or
  2. Go beyond what's required to demonstrate your, and your groups mastery, of the subject matter. Identify acceptable ways to expand the scope of the project that you and (more importantly) your group members can contribute to. Where are they strong that perhaps you are weak? How can they leverage your work to learn the material (the primary objective) while expanding the group's knowledge and capabilities? Even if there is no where further to go academically with the material (hard to imagine), how do you have to present the material? Written report, poster, etc.? Work as a group to learn a new piece of software to expand your capabilities in this regard and thus work together on the final presentation of the material.

...I would feel that it could be quite inappropriate to just do all of the work and leave my other two friends nothing to do.

Your feeling is correct. If they are in the same class, they are capable of, and expected to, contribute. Perhaps the direct objective of the assignment was well within your abilities, but there are no doubt other ways that your group members can contribute.

I wouldn't like to come across as a know-it-all.

Describe to your group members that you have background in the material and was able to fulfill the needs of the assignment. Discuss your work with them and show your approach (and caution them to cast a critical eye because you may have made a mistake). If everyone is in agreement that you're correct, see #2 above. If there is disagreement, that's a great time to meet with the instructor to (a) demonstrate that your group was diligent and attacked the project early and (b) to help determine the correct approach.

I think I'll probably finish the task just for educational purposes, so the way I see it I can do one of those: ...

Option 3: Describe the situation to your group members and ask them how they want to proceed. A major goal of group projects is to build communication and team coordination skills. This is a perfect opportunity to do so. Furthermore, group projects are meant to use the group's collective skills and abilities to outperform the skills and abilities of any one member. You've showcased yourself, now let them contribute to create a better final result than you could have alone.

Incidentally, if the project is effortless for you, is the purpose truly educational?

  • Thanks a lot for your perspective! I'll definitely try to approach it in the honest way you described. As for the task, perhaps effortless would to to strong a word, as I'm a bit rusty in the subject matter, so this exercise actually serves me as a good refresher (hence the educatonal purposes I was talking about) – User193193 Jan 4 '18 at 0:31
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A group project in class isn't the same as an assignment at a job. The teacher doesn't need this project done and isn't paying you to do it. The project is assigned for your benefit and it was assigned as a group project because not only is course material to be learned but also teamwork skills are to be honed. Use this opportunity to practice working with a group. Hone your interpersonal skills and see how good you can make the result in spite of having less skilled teammates. That's really the point of group projects.

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