Groups have practical advantages too. They’ll hold you more accountable for your study efforts. You’re less likely to miss a group meeting than to tell yourself you’ll “study later.” You will gain practical experience in working within groups, a skill many employers value.
Finally, study groups can provide a support system. College can be an overwhelmingly new environment, and a study group automatically provides contact with others who share at least one thing in common.
Forming a Group
- Be intentional. Someone needs to take the first step to get a group together – why not you?
- Look for students who participate in class, take notes, and ask questions. Ask them to join your group.
- Forming a study group with your friends is fine, but make sure you set ground rules for study; otherwise your sessions will turn into social gatherings.
- Include people with similar academic goals, but different backgrounds and situations. You can share both similarities and differences.
THE FIRST MEETING
- Invite the other potential group members to meet to talk about goals, meeting times and other logistics.
- Have a test run. If the first session works, schedule another. If things are going well, you can schedule a regular meeting time.
- Discuss expectations. Be sure you all want the same kinds of things from the group experience. Make sure to talk about schedules, length of time, convenient meeting places and other details.
- Limit the group to five or six people. Larger groups are not as effective.
- Ask each other questions. Agree to come to the session with four or five questions, then you all take the “test” together.
- Practice teaching each other. You know the material when you are able to teach it to someone else. Divide the material to be covered and assign each group member a topic.
- Compare notes. Each group member may learn something different from class sessions, especially those with different learning styles. This is a good time to ask each other questions about areas where you were confused during class.
- Discuss material you don’t understand. Even if none of you knows “the answer,” you may arrive at an understanding through the group process.
- Structure your meetings. Choose activities such as those listed above and set a time limit for each during the session. Make sure to set an ending time and use the last few minutes to assign tasks to each member for the next meeting.