Do you prefer working alone or in a group?  

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I was in school, I liked working alone.  I hated group work because I generally felt like I was going to work harder and smarter than my teammates and I didn't think they deserved to get credit for my work.  I also usually felt like group assignments were not so big that I couldn't just do all of it myself.

I think in my adult life (both personal and professional) I've come to appreciate different times when group work vs. independent work can actually be beneficial.  First of all, it is very rare in most professions that you will be working completely independently.  Also, the "real world" does, on occasion, mimic the school environment where some people naturally over-achieve and others tend to allow it.  It is good to prepare yourself in advance.

On the other hand, in professional environments, a few benefits to group work is that you often get to choose the people with whom you will work.  This makes a world of difference.  Also, the projects that require groups to achieve the goal really are big enough that one person would be swamped to do it alone.  When there is a common goal, and group members know their own strengths and weaknesses (which only comes with group-work practice), typically working in groups functions far better than working independently.

As a teacher, I am much better at facilitating group work knowing what I do from real world experience.  With the right guidelines, and the right kind of projects, group work really can be beneficial for everyone involved.

On the other hand, I am still sympathetic toward those students who, like me, prefer to do everything themselves.  I cannot help but know exactly how they feel.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of introversion-extraversion self-tests accessible on the Internet. One of the questions these tests always ask is whether you prefer working alone or working with others. Prefering to work alone is a sign of introversion, and this is not necessarily a bad sign, but it is a handicap for people in our society because there is so much importance attached to working well with other people, being a "team player," and that sort of thing. C. G. Jung was the first person to distinguish introverts and extraverts and to coin those two terms. His book Psychological Types is fascinating. It is the basis of many of the personality tests being used today. One of the most interesting things Jung says in his book is that many introverts try to be extraverts because the extraverts have the advantages in our society. He believed that this behavior could lead to neurosis and that helping an introvert to accept himself as such was a means of curing his neurosis. Introverts like to spend a lot of time alone. They are not crazy about going to parties and other social gatherings. There are many degrees of introversion and extraversion, and no one can be a pure introvert or extravert but will tend in one direction or the other. We all know people who are obvious introverts or extraverts. It isn't hard to recognize them. I recommend the self-tests accessible on the Internet. Most are free or give free partial evaluations.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find working in a group better if the idea of two heads are better than one is easily ringing true for that particular group setting. IN my professional life with a few other teachers, we actually write lessons and tests for each other and share the load of our work to make life easier. However, I could not do that with every teacher I have ever worked with. When our ideas don't mesh together well, or when I wanted to teach something much differently, these opportunities to share work didn't work. SO, I think working in groups works well (as our students often assert) when we get to pick who we will work with.

On occasion, I have also been impressed by a new partner or group member's approach to a task. I love learning new processes that I hadn't thought of myself.

On the other hand, I have experienced times of extreme pride when I have worked by myself as well. I think the situation completely determines preference.

Working with people would be my general preference if circumstances were unknown.

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the thrust currently in education is the "workshop model" with short mini-lessons and then a group project afterwards, I have to say for me personally, I hate working in groups. I am very fast when given a problem to solve and for me, the group holds me back. I am not against brainstorming ideas with colleagues however, I am always the first one done and usually am satisfied with the results I accomplish. However, in educational practice, I try grouping my more advanced students, with those who are more deficient in particular skill sets to try to help the students with lower grades learn from their peers, interact and gain confidence.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although we are often told that people need to learn to work in groups, I really prefer to work alone.  I prefer to work alone largely because when I work alone I do not need to try to compromise with what others want to do or how they want to do it.  I also feel that working alone is much more efficient than working in a group.

Working in a group invariably involves long discussions about what should be done and how it should be done.  This wastes a great deal of time and tends to lead to frustration (at least for me).  I prefer to work alone so I can identify my goals and accomplish them as efficiently as possible.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I generally prefer to work alone, especially if quality work is the primary goal. I find that, undisturbed, I get more done alone than in any kind of group atmosphere. I also believe that my best work is done without any kind of additional influence or assistance; I guess I think my way is the best way, at least most of the time. However, I do enjoy the social interaction that comes from group projects, and quite often other members of the group can provide new and different ideas. But for the quality completion of a task, I prefer the solitude of working by myself.

Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, prefer working alone and always have.  However, a recent book by Joshua Lehrer, Imagine, has made me more open to the idea of collaboration.  His book is an exposition of creativity, with about half the book devoted to solitary creativity and half the book devoted to "group" creativity.  It made me more aware that intelligent and creative people actually can accomplish things together, that there is a synergy when people connect with ideas.  It was an interesting book, and I highly recommend it for the introvert and the extrovert.  

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am very similar to #2 above.  As a student, I preferred to work alone for much of the same reasons.  As I've grown older I've come to realize that there are few times in life when you really have the opportunity to work on your own without having to work, at least in part, with others.  Therefore, I have tried to embrace working in groups quite a bit more than I did in the past.  Despite some obvious frustrations that may arise, I find that I continually seek out group setting much more than I did in the past.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can do both.  When I need to, I can work alone and get a lot accomplished.  But, I actually do my best work and accomplish more when I'm working with others.  They motivate and challenge me to do more, be more, and go further than I could all by myself.  It's also a great feeling to be part of a team and know that the entire burden of responsibility isn't resting upon my shoulders. 

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have always preferred working alone. I know, when working alone, that the work is done to a specific level without concern of the ability of others. That said, there are benefits to working in a group. Other members of the group may have a different perspective on the issues or ideas under scrutiny.

jess1999 | Student

Group works are really fun , but I definitely prefer working alone . I prefer working alone because most of the time , I usually feel like I am the only working in my group . Sometimes the people that I work with are really off-task and do not know what the assignment even was . At the end though , I would have to do their part of the work too because it is a group project . The thing that I hate most about group work though is that people who do not do as much work would get the same grade as people who do more work . Of course though , this is just my opinion . 

mknkids | Student

I generally like to work in groups because I am an interactive-type person, and I see the extreme value of many minds collaborating on issues together.  I have experienced time and time again when the results of group work are brilliant because one idea led to another which, in turn, led to another....  That being said, because I tend to tune in to other people and their ideas and needs, I often like working alone on projects that require independent thought so I do not become distracted.  

kboylan72 | Student

When I was a student in middle school I preferred working alone, because I believe I lacked social skills to so extreme. I had a handful of friends and we all got along, but when it came down to a project...I was stubborn and like to do things a certain way. As I look back, I wish I have been able to work better with others. As a child I got a look of praise for going things on my own, so I was afraid that if I worked in a group I would not be the center of attention and get the praise. As an adult I still love individual praise but have learned that praise comes to those who really deserve it... If you do the job ask, you will get the recognition you deserve.  Now ss an adult I love working in a group. I like being a team player (however some members of groups are not a team player, which can make for difficult situations), and reaching a goal as a team is a great accomplishment.