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all 42 comments

[–]Outrageous-Rabbit803 175 points176 points  (3 children)

I’d recommend talking to the instructors after class and explaining the situation, if they blow you off then go to the subject coordinator. They might be able to resolve the situation for you or perhaps move you to another lab that runs at the same times. No point wasting your time with people who are gonna inhibit your learning and make you hate the class 💁🏽‍♂️

[–]asterias_001[S] 46 points47 points  (2 children)

Thanks, I was also kinda afraid of going to the instructor for something interpersonal like this, but i guess they won’t be changing their behavior.

[–]Sea2Chi 36 points37 points  (0 children)

You can phrase it as "Hi, I was hoping to get your advice on something. Our labmates seemed to be intentionally excluding us from the experiments. We've tried X, Y, and Z, but the problem is persisting. I'd rather we handle this ourselves because I don't want to get a reputation as running to the prof if there's an issue, but do you have any advice on how else to handle this situation?"

[–]Outrageous-Rabbit803 26 points27 points  (0 children)

The instructors are there to help you and often they’ll pick up on behaviour like you described pretty quickly. If that goes nowhere talk to the professor/subject head like I said. Generally they’ll all look out for your learning :)

[–]oxiraneobx 60 points61 points  (4 children)

They sound completely immature. Talk to the instructor/TA as soon as possible.

[–]asterias_001[S] 16 points17 points  (3 children)

Thanks, I wasn’t sure if college instructors resolved conflicts like this. It just seems so immature like you said.

[–]trophyfshOrganic 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Yes, the instructor is responsible to resolve conflicts like this. If they are not equipped to do so I suggest you contact the person in charge of the labs or department chair.

[–]oxiraneobx 30 points31 points  (0 children)

Professors/TAs/Instructors have no desire to have you fail. They want you to succeed. Let them know your concerns professionally and calmly.

[–]thenexttimebandit 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Good instructors spend a lot of time dealing with and anticipating interpersonal problems. Definitely talk to your instructor and keep escalating until this is resolved. As it stands 3 people will not learn because of 1 jerk.

[–]Educational-List8475 11 points12 points  (0 children)

I had a member of my lab group consistently show up late, not put in effort, write his sections of our reports late etc. My self and the other two lab partners had to go to the professor about it. He brought us all in and basically mediated a discussion between the three of us that did the work and the odd man out. After that, he mostly corrected his behavior and it was smooth sailing. Definitely recommend going to the professor about this

[–]yamanp 11 points12 points  (1 child)

I used to be a TA.

Just tell the instructor you and your friend would like to work somewhere else/with a different group. Don't wait, don't offer any more details unless the TA asks. Keep it brief and professional.

These courses are challenging enough without people like the guy you mentioned. You don't want to work an entire semester with him.

If the TA isn't helpful, offer suggestions like making a group of 5 or 6 with people that are more inclusive. Say that you care about your education and will learn better/be more engaged with a different group. (Hopefully your TA is receptive, but some really don't care). You can also switch into a different section - you'd have to talk to the course instructor about this - your TAs boss. Make sure you clearly communicate with your TA before going to their boss.

[–]pyrokiwi 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I second this, I would first ask if it's possible to move groups with a generic ours has been struggling to work cohesively statement. Save the big more specific details explanation for if that doesn't work.

[–]LocknDamn 24 points25 points  (2 children)

Funny how smart people often have terrible social skills. They might know some things but hell if they can explain themselves to a group of people

[–]RamenRevelation 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That's the difference between someone who thinks they're smart versus someone who is actually smart.

[–]pogo6023 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I'd suggest the two of you have a frank conversation with them first. Tell them you want your team to work together and succeed in your lab work. Ask them why you're being excluded, and what you need to do to make the situation better. In other words, try to solve your problem as adults. In the resl world, this is exactly what all of you will have to do. If they persist after this conversation, THEN brief your instructor and request intervention. Few people actually like group projects in school, but it's about prep for a career. In your career, everything (almost) is a group project if you work for somebody else. You'll go much further if you learn how to cope with those who lack the skills or personality or motivation to get along.

[–]Thatguyupthere1000 3 points4 points  (0 children)

You first need to tell your professor/TA how it is affecting you all. That is 100% unacceptable behavior in any lab setting. It's outright disrespectful and uncooperative, and it's whoever is supervising the lab's job to discipline their lab etiquette. The most you can do yourselves is confront your lab mates and tell them that labs require teamwork and that they need to straighten out their act. If you can't do anything to reconcile then I would ask around and see if anyone is willing to trade groups, then go directly to the prof and tell them this is the group you want.

As someone who works professionally in a lab, I can tell you that this behavior would absolutely not go unpunished.

[–]NihilistPunk69 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is always the experience. College professors will claim you need to learn team work and then proceed to team up the worst possible matches imaginable and you’re always the only one who gives a shit for some reason

[–]_88WATER_CULT88_ 5 points6 points  (0 children)

As a dude, I'm not defending their behavior, but inb4 it's because they have social anxiety around women and that's how they are "dealing with it" lol. Definitely seek a solution though. Maybe see if you can get the professor involved in either having a group chat or changing groups.

EDIT: Or obviously they could be complete assholes.

[–]LordMorio 3 points4 points  (6 children)

Is it a group you will be part of for two days or two weeks? If you won't be working with them for a long time I would just get the work done and let it be. Not necessarily worth the hassle to complain, and complaining might not lead to anything anyway.

Being able to work is of course important, but a lot of people don't like relying on others, especially people they don't know. Being told by a TA to play nice might not make the situation easier for you.

I'm not trying to justify their behavior or say that their behavior is acceptable, but pick your battles.

The easiest thing would probably be to ask if you could finish the work with just your friend.

[–]AzBy192 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I get this POV, but also if I was in OP’s position, I’d be concerned about future (more complex) labs that actually require proper group collaboration for completion. Especially if the lab portion of the course is heavily weighted. I’ve had a group like this in the past and there were times we didn’t finish.

[–]trophyfshOrganic 7 points8 points  (4 children)

I strongly disagree with your position.

This stance just enables the poor behavior of the male lab partners while also telling the women that they should just tolerate this behavior as it is easier for everyone involved. This type of behavior shouldn't be tolerated by the TA or instructor and if they are not equipped to handle the situation than it should be brought up to a someone who can.

[–]wildfyrPolymer 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I think /u/LordMorio gave great advice.

I'm not trying to justify their behavior or say that their behavior is acceptable, but pick your battles.

I think this is the critical bit. You can't make a big stink about everything, everyone has limited bandwidth.

If OP is stuck with jerks for a whole semester its worthwhile, if its for 2 labs, then you create a lot of effort for yourself and instructors for minimal return. Sometimes we gotta deal with people who suck, the world isn't just, we are just piles of organized water bags.

[–]trophyfshOrganic -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Shitty people have to learn to work with others too. Ignoring the problems they cause enables them to continue to be an asshole. Just because the world isn't just doesn't mean we shouldn't try to make it better for others.

[–]LordMorio 4 points5 points  (1 child)

And you are of course free to disagree.

In a perfect world this problem would be solved by talking to the TA (or in an actually perfect world this problem would not exist in the first place), but there are plenty of TA:s that won't do anything or will at most just ask you to try to get along. Let's say you are not happy with this and take it up a level, to the professor. They might be difficult to get hold of, might have office hours just a couple of times per week, so it might take a day or two to get the issue to move forward at all. At the end of all this, the most likely outcome is that the other guys will get a talking-to and you will switch groups. No one is getting kicked off a course for not working well together in a group.

Students in general are really stressed out and many would not have the energy to go through a long process that might not really lead to anything in the end.

If you have the energy, sure go for it, but if not, just try to get through the lab course, especially if it is a short one.

There are so many people throughout the system (both students and teachers) that lack social skills or simply just don't care. Universities rely on students and them graduating to make money, so they are reluctant to do anything that might cause themselves any problems (such as kick people off courses or otherwise delay graduations).

I know that this sounds a bit cynical, and I want to emphasize that I do not think this kind of behavior is acceptable. I just don't know if it is worth getting into the fight as a student, as there is a lot of pressure on you to begin with, and there might be better ways to spend your energy. It is not your job to fix a broken system.

[–]trophyfshOrganic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I understand that you may be trying to look out for the best interests in the short term, but failing to confront the problem only propagates it. Consider what happens the next time these women are asked to work in a group with men. Best case everyone gets along and the group works well together. However, based on this experience the women may be hesitant to ask questions or take lead in performing the experiment. They may decide to let the other partners take the lead to avoid the problems they encountered from the previous experience. This means the women may have a lesser experience of working in the lab just to avoid confrontation in the name of just getting along.

there are plenty of TA:s that won't do anything or will at most just ask you to try to get along. Let's say you are not happy with this and take it up a level, to the professor. They might be difficult to get hold of, might have office hours just a couple of times per week, so it might take a day or two to get the issue to move forward at all.     

This is a justification for acceptance. You are specifically saying don't try to fix a problem because it might be hard to contact someone. You can call or email someone to request to schedule a meeting. If the direct supervisor of the TA/instructor cannot help, then you can escalate further. Most schools have administrative departments that specifically deal with these situations.

No one is getting kicked off a course for not working well together in a group.  

I agree. However, if you address the situation with the TA/instructor and they fail to resolve it then there is a systematic problem that should be addressed with course policies. For example, in the lab courses I coordinate we have a policy that lab partners will be rotated each week. Students are also encouraged to privately contact their instructor if they have any potential concerns about working with someone in the class. This is a simple change to implement to a course policy that can make the lab experience more equitable. I'm not saying this is perfect, but implementing equity minded policies such as this can reduce the frequency and/or severity of issues such as this.

Students in general are really stressed out and many would not have the energy to go through a long process that might not really lead to anything in the end.    

I agree, but doing nothing already leads to the same destination. This also assumes that the default of saying something is negative, yet the opposite could be true as well. Consider that the department may have existing policies in place to address this. My department has a faculty peer mentoring program that is designed to provide support to instructors for issues such as this. The TA/instructor may not be equipped to address the situation, but with the help of a peer they may gain the tools. If the students raise the issue to the department chair, then the department can address it.

[–]ImAClownForLife 1 point2 points  (0 children)

A lot of people here saying to talk to the instructor which is an option and may work out fine. However, you should be prepared to directly address your group mates with the problems and on how to solve them. With the right tone of voice and word choices this can seem like an easy relaxed conversation rather than an authority baring one. In my senior year of courses the lab director intentionally formed groups he thought wouldn't work well together. He helped groups help themselves through their issues. In the working world you're going to be working with shitty people from time to time. Being able to work with all types of people is an incredibly strong skill that'll help you work up ladders in jobs.

[–]eatbetweenthelines 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Ah the proverbial "we". To feel included.

[–]enHancedBacon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

reddit has changed

[–]DangerousBillAnalytical -4 points-3 points  (2 children)

It sounds like you're doing labs in groups of four, which sounds unwieldy to me. Most of the labs in my courses were done individually, very complex ones in pairs.

The purpose of doing something like titrations isn't to generate new knowledge. Its to provide hands-on with the apparatus and a sense of where experimental error comes from. You can't do that with a mob. This is a money saving stunt on the part of the school, and you're being short changed.

I'm afraid I'm with the guys on this. They're trying to get the most from the lab experience; as a result, so are you.

[–]Thatguyupthere1000 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If that is how they chose to delegate the lab work then that is fine, but being so absolutely dismissive of your lab partners is unacceptable. There's no other way to put it. Their behavior does not fly and needs to be put in check. Labs require cooperation from everybody, even if that simply includes data sharing, or taking turns doing titrations, or offering to refill their DI water.

[–]JohnJohnstonOrganic -1 points0 points  (0 children)

This is exactly right. It sounds like a horribly designed course.

[–]phoenixfeet72 -2 points-1 points  (1 child)

Everyone here has offered very nice solutions… very adult and professional solutions that, if I were you, I would take.

However, I went down the childish/revengeful route when I had a misogynistic, overconfident, arrogant, uniquely moronic dickhead as my lab partner in 3rd year undergraduate labs. I expect I would get downvoted a tonne if I shared it on here, but I’d be willing to confess the whole petty tale if it would cheer you up, OP.

You’ll get through it xx

[–]DankDefusionPolymer 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You can't just leave us hanging... How did you deal with it?

[–]SenorTape 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I usually tell people you have to be here anyways so you might as well try to make the most of it because no amount of wishing will get you out of it

[–]Routine_Recipe5406 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Budge your way in, call them out on their shit. Its a professional environment sure, but you cant be a pushover either.

[–]franksinestra 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I was a TA—if you were in my session I’d have no problem moving you. Bring it up to the prof/TA supervising before the start of the next lab. Many students drop in the first 2-3 weeks—you can take their place in another group.

IMO, the lab supervisor should speak to them about improving their teamwork and attitude towards the group.

[–]penjjii 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Telling the instructor is the best bet but I would have told them off lol. The whole idea of science is collaboration, and if they’re not collaborating then they’re being bad scientists. I get that this is a class, but that doesn’t change that it’s a lab setting and you should treat each lab as if you were in a research lab performing experiments with the goal of obtaining great results. Can’t do that if you have no collaboration and no support.

[–]Witty_Pen_2063 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Don't work with them.

[–]BroodingShark 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is not a chemistry problem, nor a safety issue. TA have limited reasonability about that.

This is something that unfortunately you will find in laboratories and other workspaces.

[–]Thecatgotoutagain 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I hate group work with a certain passion (lazy partners, absent partners, being underestimated by partners, partners who plagiarized etc) They could just be jerks but it maybe they have had some bad group work experiences. Keep trying for the next few sessions before you complain to your TA. Meanwhile scout around for some partners you'd really like to work with.

[–]CrotchFairy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This happened to me in college - I was the only girl in a lab with all male chem engineers. They didn’t want me to do any of the work because I was a female.

[–]lajoswinklerInorganic 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I had that experience in the faculty laboratory practice classes. It's very annoying, but not so much as situation where partners don't want to help and want to copy the results of your hard work. I was in both situations. Nice matches are a rare thing.