Create An Effective Study Group
Benefits of Using a Study Group
Study groups can be a waste of time if they are not created and used effectively. A carefully constructed study group with the right intentions and people can help you derive significant benefits from a collaborative working environment that you do not have access to when studying alone.
If you are major procrastinator, study groups can be a great way to keep you accountable because you are surrounded by peers with the common goal of doing well, so you will feel a constructive pressure to keep up. Each person can bring a different perspective to enrich the overall understanding of the topic (eg big picture perspective, detailed eye etc).
If you find that you don't get through as much study as you would like on your own, you feel unmotivated or you could benefit from having people to bounce ideas off, perhaps you are the kind of student who may realise immense progress under the right conditions.
Ways To Make Study Groups Work For You
Limit the study group between 4-6 people. This will make sure the group is manageable and accountable if there is a smaller group to look out for each other. Larger groups are likely to become more difficult to manage and present more opportunity for distractions.
Create an agenda for the day. Make sure that you set out clear objectives for what will be achieved, with realistic timeframes for each objective. Try to write it on a whiteboard in the room or similar so that everyone has an idea of the goals and can stay reminded of them throughout the session.
Schedule breaks every 30-50 mins so the group does not get worn out. The aim is not to create a competitive atmosphere, it is to make the most effective use of your time. You need to make sure you have time to let information consolidate in between the study session.
Set the study session to be around 2-3 hours. Shorter sessions generally work better to maintain efficiency and you will be less likely to get distracted in short, focussed blocks of time. If you know there is a set time to achieve the goals for the day, it is easier to maintain momentum to get through it without getting sluggish.
List all the problem areas among the group. Assign each member a specific area to learn and then teach the rest of the group - teaching is a form of application that will help you retain 90% of what you learn!
Set some practise questions for the group under time pressure. This is a good way to practise questions in a group environment and afterwards, you should swap papers and mark each others responses to give you both student and marker's perspectives. This will also keep you accountable to try harder knowing that your peers will be reviewing your answers.
Keep it light! One of the best things about a group is being able to make jokes and take the pressure off an otherwise stressful atmosphere. If you create a genuinely pleasant group environment, you will associate the experience positively and will look forward to future study group sessions.