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There is a Free Rider in my group in Poly!! What should I do?!

Large Wreath

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Large Wreath

Content written by:

Sophie Ong

Last Updated:

31 May 2021 at 4:35:30 am

Image by Daniel Mirlea
How-to Guide

There are many group projects that plays a huge percentage in your subject grade.

And, there may be free riders in the group who are irresponsible and are not doing their part. We have identified four ways to help you cope with those free riders!

1) Assign easier tasks

2) Confrontation

3) Report to The Lecturer

4) Take the Responsibility

1) Assign Easier Tasks

Everyone in the group will be given a part to do for the group project. Assigning easy tasks to the free riders may get them to do the minimal amount of work for the group. These tasks may include work that requires less research and take less time to complete.

When should I assign easier tasks?

- When your groupmate is

         - unmotivated and lazy

         - seems uninterested

         - constantly seeks help (but not a free-rider)

          Providing work that requires minimal effort may be a solution

- If your groupmate openly state that they only want to do minimal work

2) Confrontation

In group settings, take some time after class to speak to this free-rider. Before you decide to confront, always understand the reasons behind the person’s non-contributing behaviour.

Show that this conversation is a form of warning message before the team inform the lecturer about the incomplete work. Based on the team's dynamic, persuade the person to submit an appropriate work before the next deadline.

When should I confront?

- If this free-rider still does not complete the assigned work despite constant reminders through texts and does not reply to the team

- If this free-rider gives obvious excuses not to join group calls or group meetings without a valid reason (e.g. have an appointment despite a group meeting arranged beforehand).

3) Report to The Lecturer

Reach out to your lecturer, and appropriate actions will be taken accordingly. Also, when assigning the project grades, the lecturer may be more understanding in awarding grades fairly to the respective group members.

When should I report to the lecturer?

- After you have confronted this free-rider and the performance was not improved, such as; majority of tasks assigned are incomplete, not showing up in most of the group meetings and ignored most of our request to complete assigned tasks.

- A tip would be to discuss with other groupmates before reporting to the lecturer together. This will show the lecturer that your group is serious about the project and team cohesiveness, and when it is affecting more than one person, it is a clear sign this is an issue that needs to be resolved.

4) Take the Responsibility

Despite having a free rider, the group project still has to be completed, and someone will have to manage the free-rider’s work. You may have to take up the responsibility to complete this work or split it among your other groupmates who are willing to contribute.

When should I take responsibility?

- When the group project is still incomplete 1 week before the submission date. This is also an urgent period when the group should be working cohesively to complete the leftover work. (The usual case in Polytechnic). Otherwise, the group is simply forsaking the project.

- When the quality of work done does not meet requirement and the majority of groupmates are unconcerned about it.

- If there is presentation on top of the report submission, you will also need to remind the team to complete it. Never wait till the last hour when all of you are lacked of sleep while rushing the project and making careless mistakes.

To wrap up…

The best method is to group with people who are serious and responsible in their work. At times, we may not be able to choose our groupmates and active communication must always be present in the group.

This means by motivating and listening to each other and consistently sending reminders to complete a milestone! If the situation does not improve, we may have to put in a little more effort than others.

At the end of the day, our grades are at stake and we should do whatever it takes even if it is to do another person’s work.

Being reasonable, responsible and determined are the 3 important traits when working with people. We hope this message get across well to you! 

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