Dealing with a bad group member...did I screw up and what to do now? (Long)

  1. Hello all,

    Longtime lurker, first time poster. I've had a rough week and am unsure of what to do with this situation; I'm hoping to vent and get some advice.

    My cohort is in the 4th semester of a 5 semester program. This is our pediatrics rotation and we have to do a large research project/presentation for our class that we will later present again for the entire school at the end of the semester. We did our class presentations last week. I worked with someone who I will call Kay, and someone I will call Justin.

    Justin has struggled throughout the program. He is often late, leaves for extended periods during lecture, and still seems to be lost on basic concepts. Up until this point, I thought he was just a bad student and felt bad for him. I worked with him on a project last semester and his portion was very poorly written and seemed to have little effort behind it. When he asked me this semester if we could work together again, I said I would have to talk to Kay. By the time I brought it up to Kay, however, he had asked her and she said yes. Since he waited so long, Kay and I had already done the research. We asked him to supply the art materials, help with the poster, and read risk factors and statistics during the presentation.

    Which leads us to our presentation, which was on child maltreatment. Again, all Justin had to do was talk about risk factors and stats which were on the board and we would do the rest. Instead, he went on a rambling diatribe about how sometimes kids deserve to be hit, how his neighbor has an unfair CPS case against her for beating her 9 year old for "looking at pornographies," CPS stats are wrong, all this weird and horrible stuff I wish I was making up. Kay was at a loss and everyone in our class was shocked and mumbling. I have a background in social work and have worked with CPS, so I diverted him and explained these concepts to him best I could on the spot (we had a lecture on child abuse earlier that day, during which he got up and left). At one point he said something like "well I guess we're just supposed to talk to children, apparently" and laughed, which made everyone in our class laugh uncomfortably. And I said to him "This is not ******* funny." He finally shut up and we managed to finish our presentation.

    I talked to my instructors and apologized profusely for that mess, including my swearing. They were very understanding and said Kay and I would not be penalized for Justin's behavior.

    So...we have another, different group project later in the semester. I am not willing to work with him again. I asked around but everyone I texted had a group. Since I don't have everyone's number, I turned to our Facebook group. I thought he wouldn't possibly ask me to be his partner again. But of course, he did. I responded "No, sorry." I didn't think much of it but a classmate texted me and said I should reconsider having that exchange be public. By the time I deleted the post, a few people had "liked" my "No, sorry" response to his request.

    In hindsight I should've told him privately that we would not work together again, but I have been fuming since our presentation and am scared of what I'll say to him in private. I'm terrified of drama. Our program is full of it and our cohort has been talked to about how negative we are. I have really tried to avoid it, and now I feel like I've walked right into it.

    So as I mentioned before, Kay, Justin, and I have to give the same presentation to the entire school in April. I don't know how to approach this at all. Should I ask Justin not to participate? Ask my instructor to remove Justin from our group? I don't trust him at all after this fiasco. It wasn't just the nature of his comments, it was that he kept them to himself and then unloaded during our GRADED presentation. I don't know if it was sabotage, profound ignorance, or what.

    My questions are basically: a) Was I in the wrong during any of this and do I owe Justin an apology and b) What should I do in regards to having to give the presentation later in the semester with him? Thank you for reading and sorry for all the rambling.
  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Guy in Babyland
    This is a discussion that needs to be with the instructor. The instructor is a witness to his actions during the class presentation. I don't think that she would want a repeat performance during the school presentation. Ask for him to be reassigned to another group, or present a project on his own. It is not fair to you and "Kay" that he detracts from your hard work.
  4. by   caliotter3
    In total agreement with the previous post. Approach the instructor now and stick to your guns. No reason whatsoever why Justin can not do his own thing.
  5. by   Sassyrose
    Wow. What a jerk this guy is... or maybe he's on drugs. Perhaps that is why he leaves. I don't think you owe him an apology. If he was my group member, I might talk to him first, but honestly, he was so far out of line, that even if he was resolute that he wouldn't do anything again, and then did what he was supposed to do, I still wouldn't trust him!! I'd definitely talk to the instructor. How is this kid still in your class? I cannot imagine the world of **** he would have been in from my nursing school instructors had he pulled such a stunt in my class! Maybe you should talk to your instructors and see if you can get a urine test on him! Holy moley. I have had group members we had to do the work for and still messed up, but this goes way, way beyond that. Also, it doesn't matter if your class is negative. That's the instructor's problem really. They may try to make it your problem, but it's theirs! Do the best you can, help others out, but don't be fooled into thinking YOU are responsible for everyone getting along. NOT YOUR PROBLEM. You are PAYING for an education, not getting paid. You have every right to be fuming mad.
  6. by   Emergent
    This is another example of why group projects are the Devil's spawn.
  7. by   SaltySarcasticSally
    Quote from Emergent
    This is another example of why group projects are the Devil's spawn.
    Ugh, I agree. I know the argument for group projects it that it is supposed to teach us how to work together in the "Real World" but rarely do they ever work well in a college environment. OP that guy sounds unbalanced, definitely talk to your instructor since they saw all of this go down, he should have been removed from the program at that point.
  8. by   HouTx
    AAARRGGHH! Group projects are the worst. Unfortunately, you will be caught in the same morass at each successive level of education - been there, done that. The only positive aspect is - by the time you are in grad school, the "Justin-esque" students are no longer there. Instead, you have the ones with strange quirks (the background has to be blue or I can't focus) , borderline OCD or egos that demand to be personally responsible for all group decisions. By the time I was in doctoral classes, it was a fairly homogenous crowd (scholastic ability-wise) so we just divvied up the work and only "met" to put it all together.

    We feel your pain. If you have to suck it up in order to get through the class, just do it. It's not worth jeopardizing your own status. NCLEX will sort Justin out.
  9. by   throwaway26
    Thank you. That made me feel a lot better.
  10. by   Union-Jack
    How AWFUL, and yet another reason why I despise group projects. I definitely suggest talking with your instructor(s) and explaining your concerns.

    However, let's assume worst case scenario you are forced to (a) present the project again to the entire school with this person and (b) forced to work with him on the next group project. It is certainly infuriating to be lumbered with all the hard work and have minimal input from your peers, and especially in this case where it appears to be the absolute opposite; he seems to be sabotaging and almost going out of his way to be difficult/passive aggressive.

    However - in there is your chance to really shine. How you handle this difficult, unhelpful, and apparently slightly unbalanced individual could actually be a major gold star in your favor! I'm not negating the fact you (and possibly Kay) will end up carrying the workload, and I'm not negating the fact that he may act like a loose cannon during the presentation, but if YOU (and Kay) maintain your composure, dignity, and stress levels - it could actual work in your favor.

    The first time around, he caught you off guard by going on his rambling diatribe. This time around, you are forewarned and hence can be forearmed! Prepare yourself for what could be an undignified debacle from him, and yet hold yourself steady and you will appear professional, able to handle difficult situations, and a shining example of how to react under stress. Have some excellent verbiage prepared to respond to his crazy behavior, maybe.

    For example, "I can see you feel passionately about this Justin, but this is not what we discussed or prepared for, so if you will please allow me to return to the focus of our presentation". Then just carry on with the good stuff. Believe me, your audience will be impressed with your handling of such an awkward situation.

    And finally, I am 99.9% certain that your instructors are well aware that this person is a tad off the rails...walking out of class and so forth. Keep your eye on YOUR goals and let him dig his own grave.
  11. by   jtboy29
    I think you should of noticed his actions and his effort the first time around. However, you saw some light in him that he might have changed the second time around. After the actions he displayed, I don't think he has any right to be in a tough program such as nursing. If he doesn't show any effort, leaves for long periods of time during lecture, does not understand even the basic concepts I think the instructor should have a discussion with him and the program director because obviously the guy doesn't care about his education and you and "kay" do. You are paying for your education and you have every right to make the best of it.
  12. by   jj224
    As everyone mentioned, group projects suck.. but they give you a glimpse of what it's like working with jackasses and people that don't pull their own weight. You aren't in the wrong. Get your instructor involved and move forward without him. Last thing you want to do is be in front of a larger group of people where he pulls the same BS again. Tell your instructor that you and Kay did the majority of the work and he didn't participate much. You don't owe him anything.
  13. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from SaltySarcasticSally
    Ugh, I agree. I know the argument for group projects it that it is supposed to teach us how to work together in the "Real World" but rarely do they ever work well in a college environment. OP that guy sounds unbalanced, definitely talk to your instructor since they saw all of this go down, he should have been removed from the program at that point.
    You will have to work with the unbalanced coworker in the real world as well. Some of them actually graduate from school and get real jobs. Or are in the Respiratory Therapy department or even become physicians.

    Talk to the instructor, and try to keep emotions out of it. Just facts. Either the instructor can reassign Justin or she will let him continue with the project knowing that you and Kay have done all the work. And perhaps the instructor will have thoughts on how to get help for Justin.
  14. by   lnvitale
    You were wrong to swear during the presentation, that was inappropriate. You've apologized and that's over and I think you realized that mistake, which is mitigated by the fact that your partner went off the rails.

    You are not wrong for anything else you've done that you've shared here, including posting "No, sorry" on facebook. Nothing wrong with that.

    As far as getting out of working with him again, I would ask for permission to do a presentation alone. This shows responsibility.