Ask Evergreen: Group Project Pains

Sometimes (politely) calling out a slacking group project member is the best option.

Ask Evergreen is a weekly advice column by the students of the Lumberjack.

Each week we’ll answer anonymous questions sent in by readers about anything and everything.

Dear Evergreen

How do you deal with a group member who’s refusing to do their part of the project?

Dear Peeved Project Participant,

Group projects can be excruciating enough, but even more so when you have a member who is not contributing. There are a few things you can do before throwing in the towel or taking on the slacker’s work. You can reach out to this group member, ask the other group members what they think or contact your professor.

Before doing anything drastic you should ask the slacking group member if there is something confusing about the project. They might not understand their specific role in it and may be too ashamed to speak up. Maybe this group member is dealing with personal issues and isn’t focused on school as much as they could be, so be cordia. If they’re just plain lazy, you should politely call them out in person or through an email.

Reach out to the any other project group members and mention the stalemate. Your peers might be experiencing the same frustrations as you. Ask them for advice on how to proceed with the project. You all might have to take on the incomplete work to submit a whole project, and you may still have to bring the problem up to the professor. Ideally, since your fellow partners are in the same situation, they will be able to back you up when it comes to explaining the issue.

If you’ve exhausted all efforts of trying to wrangle in the straggler, you should definitely contact your professor to cue them in. This can be especially helpful if you aren’t getting an individual grade for the project.

Thankfully, some professors allow for group feedback at the end of projects. Peer reviews can be a cathartic release after a stressful report. Make sure you get the positives and the negatives of all group members to not solely ridicule the lazy member. But don’t forget to emphasize the things that were harder to complete because of their lack of participation and communication. Remember that this is a group project and you’re not alone in this temporary headache.

Teamwork makes the dream work!



If you have any questions you’d like to send in, email us at We won’t publish any names and you don’t need to use one.

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