The Benefits of a Study Group
Study groups can make an important difference when it comes to your commitment to a class and success in school. They allow you to expand your notes where maybe your partners caught something in class that you missed.
You also learn better by educating others. The process of teaching and explaining ideas within a group forces you to solidify your own understanding of the material. Group study provides opportunities to talk through and master the material yourself.
Let’s face it. Sitting down alone and studying for hours can be difficult. Study groups provide structure and accountability, and limits habits like procrastination or giving into distractions.
Guidelines for forming a study group
3-6 students (Two people can still get a lot done, but a few more perspectives will help. Any more than six and you may want to form two groups)
Don’t base study partners on friendship. Just because they are fun to chat with, doesn’t mean they will be a good group member. Look for people who attend class regularly, take notes, ask questions, and respond to the teacher’s questions.
Hold study group sessions in a place free of distractions with room to spread materials out.
Study groups should meet for no more than 2-3 hours at a time. Make sure you have some breaks built into your time. You can only focus for so long and breaks may help you refocus.
If possible, try to meet on the same day(s) and time(s) each week. Treating the study session like you would a class helps you keep to a schedule and ensures that everyone will attend.
At your first meeting, make sure everyone has agreed on expectations, and then establish rules and guidelines (e.g. Decide if slackers will be kicked out of the group, who will communicate with the instructor, who will reserve meeting space, etc.).
Create your goals
Goals will help outline your project and what needs to be done before, during, and after each meeting. Everyone should know what is expected to be achieved each time you meet.
Before a session, be sure to finish your assigned reading, review notes, prepare any group assignments, and list topics and questions you want to review. You don’t want to be the slacker of the group!
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and/or clarification. Chances are someone else has a similar question or concern.
Stay on topic
For each session, assign someone to steer group members back on topic if they drift.
Get the most out of a study session
Assign people to teach and lead a discussion on each topic on your agenda
Make assignments at the end of each meeting for the next meeting so that each person can prepare questions and think about the best way to address the topic.
Have everyone create questions that test comprehension, application, and memory of the material
Take turns asking, answering, and explaining why the correct answer is correct. (Collect questions at each session; then, take the cumulative practice exam you’ve created to prepare for the real exam.)
Create songs, movement, chants, etc. that will help your group remember key information/terms.
Studies show that connecting knowledge to kinetic activity (characterized by movement), rhythm, and music significantly helps retention
Material adapted from Anastasia Pryanikova, “How to Form an Effective Study Group,” Lawsagna: neuroscience-fueled tips for productivity, creativity and influence; The College Board, “The Power of Study Groups,” The College Board; Latino Scholars Network, “How to Form a Study Group,” Hispanic Scholarship Fund.