Finding a Study Group
Here's an easy way to join an organized study group for certain, historically rigorous courses such as MTH 1321 or BIO 1305. Click on the active link above for all the opportunities.
Forming and Conducting EFFECTIVE Study Groups
--You cannot clap with one hand. (Chinese Proverb)
- Include students who take notes, ask questions in class, and/or stay after class to talk with the instructor. Choose only those who seem serious about the course and whose academic goals are similar to your own.
- Encourage individuals with various learning styles (auditory, visual, or kinesthetic for example) to provide different perspectives on the material.
- Limit the group to four or five people since larger groups usually aren't as productive.
- Keep in mind that your best friend or your roommate may not be your best study partner.
- Ask your professor if you can post notice of a meeting on the board before class.
- If too many people respond, consider forming more than one group.
- Hold meetings in a well lit area where there are a minimum of distractions. Moody may have study rooms that might be reserved for group study. Also, check with your CL about a room in the residence hall. Some apartment complexes have meeting rooms, also.
- Choose a location that doesn’t invite group members to become too relaxed. Studying requires energy! It’s helpful to have a dry erase or blackboard, as well.
- Select a meeting time when members of the group are most alert and ready to study.
- Set clear starting and ending times.
- Schedule regular sessions instead of meeting only before major exams.
- Sessions should be one hour to an hour and a half in length. Effectiveness can be lost in marathon sessions. Besides, if you are meeting regularly for review, discussion, and study, a marathon session shouldn’t be needed.
- Ask each group member to take responsibility for a portion of the material—a chapter in the textbook, notes for several lectures, a list of terms or formulas, etc.
- Agree that each member of the group commit to being prepared for every meeting. Individuals will gain more and be better able to help other members.
- Practice explaining things to each other, a strategy which can be a very powerful learning/memory aid.
- Create mnemonic devices if members find them useful.
- Have each group member bring several sample test questions, pair off, and quiz each other.
- Create summaries using the Cornell system of note taking.
- Create and use concept maps to review lecture material.
- Predict test questions based on reading material and lectures.
- Compare class notes and fill in gaps or clarify complicated information.
- Use as many of the senses as possible to enhance learning and memory.
- Paraphrase often to promote clear communication among members of the group. Putting ideas into your own words is an effective learning and memory aid.
- Stay on target by allotting a certain amount of time for each activity. Limit socializing.
- Hold a sample meeting and then evaluate its usefulness.
- Summarize what you have achieved and examine whether the goals for the session were reached. Establish an agenda for the following session.
- Members can encourage and support each other in the learning process.
- You will be motivated to attend and participate in the group session because others are counting on you.
- You will gain practice with group skills and team membership while developing content mastery.
- Pooling ideas, sharing discussion, reviewing lecture material as a group can lead to effective learning and a better performance on a test.
IF PROBLEMS ARISE:
- When there is too much off-task activity going on, stop and address the issue in a non-confrontational way. Ensure that each member of the group can work together in a professional manner. Talk about issues of conflict early on so that they don’t present problems later. Think about an outside party such as a member of the Academic Support Programs staff or a graduate teaching assistant who might mediate in the event of a conflict over the best ways to study.
- When all members of the group are not academically matched, begin by pairing the more proficient students with less proficient. If that does not work well, provide information about the tutoring program so that students who need extra help can get it before the study group meets.
1 Ruthanne Lum McCunn, ed., Chinese Proverbs San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991).
2 To use the highly effective Cornell system of note taking, first draw a vertical line about two-thirds of the way from the left margin of each page. Make notes to the right of the line, leaving the left-hand side for key words or summary questions. Then “hide” the notes by folding the page under on this line and quiz yourself using the key words or questions.
3 To construct a concept map, begin by writing the main concept in the center of the page and draw a circle or square around it. Write related or subordinate concepts on lines that radiate outward from the center. Use only key words and add symbols or images that will help you remember ideas. Add color to the map. A concept map is a good way to consolidate notes about a lot of material in a limited amount of space.