Sometimes lectures in classes frustrate students. Sometimes lecturers go much faster than some students can follow. There are many strategies that can help students cope with these frustrations, but one can be significantly helpful: a study group. It has been proven that studying in groups helps many students. As students work in groups, they feel free to ask questions about concepts and topics that are hard to understand.
Strategies for study groups:
- Since it is hard to handle a large group of students, keep the group small (maybe a group of five-six students) for discussions.
- Find partners you are comfortable with.
- Decide on the place to meet. It should be in a place most accessible to the students in the group.
- Decide on the time that works best for the group members.
- Choose a group leader.
- Groups should meet on weekly basis. When meetings are held less often, such as every other week, attendance tends to drop off as the students often lose interest in what they are doing. These meetings should not, when possible, have any conflicts with other activities. Commitment to meeting regularly will help most students.
- Start and end the meetings on time.
- Make a list of questions with which you may want some help. You may have questions from the lecture or reading. The group is a place where you can clarify your knowledge regarding your concerns. Some of your questions may be easily answered. Some group members may understand the subject very well and give good suggestions. Clarification of instructional information and content is often much easier with many heads put together. Make sure all members have the opportunity to contribute information they have studied. Quieter group members often have much to share, but may need encouragement to share their thoughts.
- Brainstorming test questions together will help group members prepare for (and perform better on) tests. Form a circle so everyone faces one another and asks questions directly. Everyone should bring in a question. Again, make sure each member contributes. Hold a discussion about test questions group members bring.
- Past test questions should also be discussed. This will help sharpen the group members’ memories. Pick several problems that could be potential test questions and do them together. Creating a practice test could also help. Share concerns regarding questions on previous tests when appropriate. However, don’t let grievances over the concerns remain the topic of discussion. Instead, find solutions and strategies for managing them on the next test.
Study Groups cannot take the place of individual study and thought, but they are an extremely beneficial study skill for many students. Each student learns from other group members and the social interaction allows members to gain confidence and a sense of mutual support.