The “F” in Group Work: Managing the Free Rider Problem.
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We have all heard about the benefits of group work leading to a better product. However, we have also all experienced group work that has been frustrating, involved productivity losses and undermined teamwork. The literature refers to this as “group hate”. This presentation is based on our initial literature review of free riding, social loafing, and the sucker effect. The common denominator between these concepts involves withholding effort. The free rider phenomenon involves a balance between personal interests (individual utility) and collective interest (social utility). Faculty has an important role to play in addressing the free rider problem in relation to coursework because they control the contextual variables as well as technical and organizational aspects of group work. By the end of this session, participants will have an understanding of the concepts of free riding, social loafing, and the sucker effect. Participants will also be able to reflect on the free rider problem in the context of their courses and appreciate why some individuals withhold effort. This session will also involve discussion on practices to minimize the free rider problem.