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U Musings: Let me tell you about bad lab partners…

You ever had a bad lab partner? It’s a pretty tough spot to be in. They eat away at you, steal all your hard work and turn it into profit for them. You really, really want to tell your professor that they haven’t done anything to contribute, but what if they contest what you said? What if they manage to convince your professor that they have contributed and you’re just an asshole? Well, that’s the situation I’ve found myself in this semester with not one person, but two.

I have three labs that require partners this semester and only one of them is an adequate partner. He’s more than adequate actually; he’s amazing and awesome and I couldn’t ask for a better partner. My other two partners are terrible, and the ways in which they’re terrible change from week to week. Let’s call them Suzy and Betty.

Suzy never seems to have anything to add to the conversation. I ask her a question or try to get her input and it’s always “I don’t know” or “Yeah.” She absolutely refuses to exercise her brain in any context for the lab. However, Suzy seems to know she’s lacking in the “doing the lab” department because she makes up for it in other ways. She is very flexible, doing her best to move around her schedule so we always have time during the week to complete the lab and, since we turn in a single lab report, she always does research to complete the lab report. So, while Suzy is a bad lab partner, she is not the worst, just really irritating.

Betty, on the other had, is the epitome of a bad lab partner. Other than installing the program to her computer, she can’t do anything by herself. She has the lab laptop, so she can work on it at home if we don’t finish it. This would be great, except that she can’t do anything without me holding her hand. When we don’t finish, I’ll explain how to do it to her in the lab, I expect her to finish that part that night, and we’ll meet in the morning to get more work done.

When we meet in the morning, she not only shows up late, but also hasn’t made any progress since I told her how to do it. Sometimes she lies to me, says she’s tested the assignment even though you have to add another separate file to test it, so there’s no way she’s tested it. It’s aggravating!

When I talked to her about it, she says it’s a language barrier, but she can communicate very effectively about the things she cares about just fine in English, so I don’t think that’s it. I’m tired of her disrespecting my time and not contributing to this lab, but I also don’t want to force her to pull her own weight, not because I’m nice, but because I don’t want a bad grade.

Having a bad lab partner is an awful position to be in, but sometimes it happens. You should always talk with your lab partners if they ever mistreat you or ride through the class on your work; I know I will. However, if the situation doesn’t get any better, talk to your professor and tell the truth. Tell them about how you’re trying your best and you feel like you’re doing the lab alone. It’s all you can do, and you really shouldn’t be working on a lab that’s meant for two people by yourself.

Feature image courtesy Pixabay user felixioncool

September 26, 2016

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Virginia Colkley


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