A study group can be beneficial in many ways. Here are the most important benefits:
- Study groups help you to stay focused and motivated.
- You may find it easier to ask questions and actively engage in your learning in a small group setting than you do in a large group, so studying with peers can be a great supplement to your course.
- You may be more motivated to complete your work on time because you know your group members are relying on you.
- You will learn multiple points of view and methods for problem solving and critical thinking.
- You can learn valuable new study habits from the other group members.
A study group should possess the following characteristics to be successful:
- Each group member contributes to discussions and is held accountable for bringing something to the group or for creating something during the session. Accountability keeps everyone working hard, focused, and enjoying the process.
- Group members actively listen to each other without interrupting.
- Group members are prompt and come prepared to work. Ideally, the group should create some type of product, such as an outline, a study sheet, or a diagram, that everyone can take home and study. This helps to maintain focus on a task and helps all members to remember what was accomplished.
- The group creates an agenda collectively and then stays on task with respect to its agenda.
- Group members provide constructive feedback, not criticism. (The RLC training staff can help you learn to do this!)
- At the end of each study session, an agenda including specific group member responsibilities is prepared for the next session.
- Above all, the positive attitude that "we can do this together" is maintained. Group members do not spend the time complaining about the class or speaking in a self-defeating manner.
A study group can be a very positive learning experience. However, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Here are some cautions:
- Do not let the study group get distracted from its agenda and goals.
- Do not let the study group become a social group. You can always socialize at other times.
- Do not allow group members to attend unprepared. To stay in the group, members should be required to do their fair share.
- Do not allow one or two group members to dominate the group. It is important that all members have an equal opportunity to participate.
- Do not allow the study group to become a collaborative complaining session! It is important that the conversation remains positive and constructive. Study groups are about finding creative solutions to problems, not commiserating about them.
*Some items adapted from http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills/en/study-groups.asp
Use some of these suggested activities to help you plan your study group.
You can also use the Student Request Form to request support and training in forming your group.