For most students, the biggest struggle between high school and college courses is the autonomy you’re given. Professors don’t monitor your progress nearly as close as most high school classes. The course may have very little homework and tests create a large portion of your grade. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing no homework equals no work. Your professor may not be constantly reminding you what topics you should be studying each week, but there is a solid chance your syllabus will tell you. In order to stay current in your classes, perform well on tests, and get a good grade, you need to study! One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable for keeping a study schedule is by forming a study group. Not every study group is a good one, though. We have tips on how to form an effective study group!
3-6 people who you are acquainted with, but not necessarily best friends. It’s not that it is impossible to do effective studying with your best friend, but it is sometimes too tempting to discuss your day’s events or this weekend’s activities rather than focusing on the material at hand. Observe your classmates. Which students seem actively engaged, are taking detailed notes, and participate in class? These will likely be the most reliable, helpful study mates to include in your group. Also, don’t be discouraged if your first group doesn’t work out. Maybe you realize you don’t feel comfortable or are not being explained material in a way you learn. It is perfectly okay to respectfully let your groupmates know this isn’t going to work out.
This will, of course, need to be coordinated with each member’s schedule, but it is a good idea to keep it consistent. Although there are variations, most people’s schedules will be fairly similar from one week to next. If your group can decide on a set time every week, it will save time and stress from trying to coordinate each week. Eventually, making that Doodle every week will become a hassle. The habitual meeting time will also make this appointment seem similar to class and members will feel less likely to skip. It increases accountability in its members and will lead to a more efficient session.
The ideal study session will be somewhere quiet, free of distraction, and in a tidy area with enough room to spread out. You can each group member to have enough space to feel comfortable and be able to spread their materials out how they please. As with the time, it may be nice to be able to set a designated spot also so less time is taken up arranging this. You could reserve a space at the library for the number of weeks you will meet. Then, if it’s a beautiful day outside and the group decides to move outside, they can!
The biggest question of how effective a study group will be how is the time spent together utilized? Three very important success factors are agendas, load balancing, and time management. Creating an agenda before every meeting allows group members to prepare themselves (and possibly their assignment) ahead of time. This is also where load balancing comes in. Maybe you have a team that likes to have their role the same every time, or maybe you switch it up.
For example, let’s say we have a study group of four people. The roles that rotate are agenda-maker, teacher, student, and timekeeper. One person will create an agenda based on what was discussed in class that week and decide on learning objectives. Another student will serve as the “teacher” or instructor to explain the material that was covered.
The “student” role will ask questions based on material. This relationship is beneficial because if you are able to teach someone material, you have a great understanding of it. The student’s questions are another type of learning and will further test the “teacher” to see how deep their knowledge goes. The timekeeper is the meeting organizer. They keep members on time, productive, and are a necessary component to creating an effective, learning environment. At the end of the session, allow time for last-minute questions about topic material or concerns about the effectiveness of the group.
Always be evaluating your success as a group and looking for ways to help each other succeed in the class.
For more tips on effective studying, check out the list of related articles below.