How to utilize study groups

Using Study Groups

by Becton Loveless

Forming study groups is a very effective strategy for enhancing learning. This is because groups share unique insights and learn from each other. Group members can also teach confusing concepts they understand to other group members. Study groups are particularly effective for completing projects, developing presentations and preparing for exams. The following are advantages of study groups and the strategies for making study groups effective.

Benefits of Joining Study Group

The following are the greatest benefits of joining a study group.

  • Improve your notes
    Study groups provide an excellent means for students to compare class lecture notes. Comparing notes allows students to fill in any information or important concepts they may have missed during lecture.
  • Sharing talents
    Since everyone has individual talents and unique insights, group members can learn from each other. Study groups provide students an opportunity to benefit from the talents and knowledge of the other group members.
  • Support system
    School can be very stressful, so it is advantageous to seek support from people in similar situations that can provide you support. Joining or forming a study group is a great way to give and receive motivation and support from fellow students and group members. And if you become sick or are unable to attend class, you can get notes from members of your study group.
  • Cover more material
    Working in groups makes it possible to focus on more concepts since multiple people can review more material than just one. Many groups decide to assign topics to individual group members to research and study and then provide a summary for the group. This strategy allows students to learn a lot more, in a much shorter time, than if they were to study each topic on their own.
  • It makes learning fun!
    Studying with a group is a great way to liven up your study sessions. It can be very monotonous and draining to spend long hours alone in the library. Joining a study group and studying in a group environment makes learning much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Developing an Effective Study Group

The following are recommendations for forming effective study groups.

  • How many
    It's recommended to keep study groups between 4 to 6 people. People often socialize too much and cannot cover as much material in smaller groups. In bigger groups, some group members do not contribute as much and organization can be a problem. With 4 to 6 people in your group you'll minimize socialization and maximize individual contribution.
  • Who
    The most effective study is completed in study groups composed of members with the common goal of earning good grades. Students dedicated to succeeding in school usually complete assigned reading, take extensive notes, and clear up confusion by asking questions and contributing to the group. Depending on the subject matter, sometimes it's advantageous to select group members with unique talents or knowledge.
  • Where
    It is best to study in environments without distractions and areas where group members can communicate freely. Most college libraries contain group study rooms. Studying out in the open can work, if your group isn't going to become a distraction to others.
  • How long
    It is best not to study more than 2 to 3 hours at a time when studying in a group. During long sessions, group members tend to socialize more and do not study as productively. However, study sessions under an hour tend to be rushed and unproductive since only a few subjects can be discussed.
  • When
    If you plan to meet regularly with a study group, organize sessions at the same location and time. This way, individual members can have time to properly prepare prior to meeting with the group. Having your study group at the same time each week allows students to fit it into their permanent schedule at a time when they're going to be available the entire year.

Maximizing the Value of Study Group Sessions

The following are strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of time spent studying in groups:

  • Create clear objectives and goals
    Prior to each session, group members should discuss what they hope to achieve, so the session is productive and stays on track.
  • Be prepared
    Group study can be very ineffective if individual members come unprepared for sessions. Each member of the study group should review lecture notes, complete select readings from the textbook, and identify specific subjects to study.

  • Ensure participation
    Every member of a study group should actively participate. A great way for each member to contribute is to assign specific topics and have each member instruct the group. Teaching is a great way for individuals to retain information.
  • Stay focused
    Before each session, someone should be assigned to manage it. The person charged for leading a session must ensure it is productive, stays on track and all necessary material is covered. The person responsible for managing the session should also schedule breaks to avoid getting burned out.
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