Edit: I met with the prof and she agreed that it wasn't my responsibility or place to teach my group mates the foundations they were supposed to have learned. A direct quote was that "everyone has to fend for themselves."

There are several similar (and very helpful) questions which address some points of this question, but I feel this question is a bit different and thus merits being asked.

(1) How to handle team member who is unable/unwilling to collaborate

(2) How to handle a colleague who hasn't pulled their weight

(3) How to make group work work?

The first two questions do not apply because each of the collaborators wishes to contribute and not just ride the wave so-to-speak. I attempted to follow some of the suggestions of the third question, but the group thought it was insulting.

add more structure to the group project. This increases the workload on your end but it mitigates the most common issues you'll see in groups during group projects.

Use and quality based hierarchy, assign the hard-working students as group leads.

I am in a group to complete an assignment. The teammates are very willing to collaborate and work, but the problem is that they did not actually learn the course material when they were supposed to. Therefore, they cannot actually help out without a significant amount of learning.

The group expects me to sit down with them for many hours (whole days) to teach them and collectively complete the assignment together. I feel that this is far too much responsibility, effort, and time required on my part, since my teammates lack the skills to contribute because they were unsuccessful in keeping up with the course material.

How should I proceed?

  • are you required to work as group? if yes, raise it to the class instructor. – seteropere Oct 18 '14 at 6:28
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    You are undergrad courses, I presume? In that case I don't think the question is a fit for Academia.SE. – posdef Oct 18 '14 at 8:28
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    @posdef I think this issue also exists for graduate students (making it suitable for A.SE). – earthling Oct 18 '14 at 11:54
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    @posdef: earthling's interpretation is correct. The guideline is that undergraduate-only questions are off-topic. A question posed in relation to undergrad issues that also applies at later stages is on-topic. – aeismail Oct 18 '14 at 12:48
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    It is a mixed course with advanced undergraduates, master's, and PhD students. – user3898238 Oct 18 '14 at 19:15

You don't really have many options. As I see them:

  1. You can talk to the instructor, explain the situation, and ask to move to another group
  2. You can talk to the instructor, explain the situation, and ask to do the project individually
  3. You can actually sit down and teach them

As far as which you should do, there are too many variable for us to answer here. However, it seems the best would be start with (1). If that fails, try (2). If that also fails, do (3) and try to find the pleasure in teaching others.

  • Thank you for this answer. I did try 3 already, but the group wants several more days (8h/day). It is not a pleasurable teaching experience because the group tells me how to solve the assignment and then I have to correct their approach, without actually taking any of my input. Furthermore, I have been told it's my fault and responsibility if the group doesn't complete the assignment. If I were teaching an actual course, perhaps that would be fair. But I am just another group member. – user3898238 Oct 18 '14 at 19:40
  • Depending upon how far along you are with the schedule, i.e. how much time is left, asking the instructor to move you to another group, including perhaps a group of one, seems to be the only way to avoid the teaching task. – Bob Brown Oct 19 '14 at 8:55

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