Study Habits: Study Groups

Who to Ask and Who Not to Ask:

  • Look for students who you know have a reputations as good students or who you know want to become better students.
  • Be on the lookout for students in your courses who ask questions and take notes during class.
  • Your friends may or may not be good choices. If your friends share similar academic and/or personal goals, they might make good study partners. Beware of studying with friends who are mainly social friends for you. You may too easily distract each other.

How to Form a Study Group:

  • Ask some people like those mentioned in 1) and 2) above if they want to meet over lunch or coffee to discuss forming a study group to talk about logistics. No one has to commit at this point.
  • Or, you can write a note on the black board asking that interested students contact you or pass around a sign-up sheet in class or post one outside your class door or in your residence hall. You get the idea....
  • Limit the group to 5 or 6 members. Larger group meetings are difficult to conduct. Try a one time only session. If that works, plan another. If that works, set up a time to meet once per week for the rest of the semester.

How to Conduct a Study Group:

  • Set an agenda for each meeting. Decide how long each meeting will last.
  • Rotate leadership. Each week select a person who will guide the discussions for the next week and keep the group focused on the agenda. This person does not do the work for the group, but serves as the facilitator of the group for that week.
  • Leave at least 5 to 10 minutes of each session for brainstorming possible test questions. At the next meeting, go over these questions and brainstorm solutions and answers to the questions together. Figure out where in your notes, handouts, and books where the answers can be found. Someone can serve as the group's secretary that week and write the questions down along with a list of places to find the answers to the possible questions. Photocopy the list for all members of the group.
  • Compare lecture and/or lab notes to see if you all recorded the important points and so that each of you can fill in missing information. Make note of information that was confusing for many members of the group. Ask a volunteer from the group to speak to the professor on behalf of the group. The volunteer reports back to the group the professors responses. (Remember though, that as individuals, you are still responsible for learning the information on your own. If you still don't understand, go to the professor yourself.)
  • Each group member must be prepared for group each week by having read all the materials. It is recommended that your group cover what has happened in your course over that last week rather than cover what will happen in the next week. Your study group is one aspect of each individual member's review process.
  • If your book or lab manual has questions at the end of each chapter or section. Divide the questions among the members each week and have each person explain that section to the rest of the group. The other group members help by clarifying ideas of the speaker and by correcting any misinformation reported.
  • End each meeting with assignments for each member.