Study groups have been proven to be very successful in helping students perform better in their courses. Effective group learning can increase motivation and confidence, as well as strengthen connections among your peers. The ability to work as part of a team is also a highly desirable trait in the workforce. Being part of a study group experience can be rewarding, but requires effort on your part.
Some of rewarding benefits of joining a study group are:
- Improve your understanding of course material
- Share resources with current students about course content
- Experience new ways of thinking and new ideas about course content
Possible complications within a study group are:
- An unmotivated participant can turn a study session into one long gossip session
- An underprepared participant can turn a study session into a “teaching” rather than a sharing of ideas
- Lack of commitment of each participant to attend sessions could ruin the pace and motivation for all participants
When forming a study group, it is important to consider not only how many people should be in the group, but also who should be in the group. For best results, limit the size of your study group to three to six students. Too many voices in one group can cause chaos, confusion, and distraction. Furthermore, the more people you have in your group, the more difficult it can be to schedule a time. If there is a larger group of students interested in forming a study group, simply divide the group in half and mix up the members from time to time. When organizing a study group, don’t feel limited to only inviting your friends. Choose your study group members wisely – people who have similar academic goals and have a desire to participate, share, listen, and learn. A good start is talking to your classmates sitting around you to gauge interest in forming a study group. It is very likely that there are other students in the class also looking for study partners!
Another important aspect of study groups is the preparation each group member must complete before the group meets. Study groups should be a secondary means of studying; each member should be studying on their own before the group meets. The group time should be spent clarifying topics that each member doesn’t understand or as a time for practicing exams or tests.
Study groups are formed for many different reasons. It’s important to determine the specific goals for your group. Are you looking for test preparation? Your group might develop possible test questions to review and provide practice before exams. Are you looking for a group to meet weekly? Your group might compare notes from class sessions to fill in gaps and clarify topics, share study strategies, check for understanding of readings, or develop study aids like charts or notecards.
Once you have your group together, the Academic Achievement Center can provide guidance on how to structure the group for success using the “AAC Study Group Toolkit.” To get started, visit our website at http://www.towson.edu/aac/studyGroups.asp and fill out the request form.
Academic Achievement Center
Placement Testing Coordinator