How to Study Group

What is a Study Group

My definition of a study group is a collection of disciplined school peers that regularly meet to discuss and work on common topics enriching the knowledge and skill set of each member i.e. create better grades.

study group

Can study groups work? Yes. Do they usually work? No.

Most study groups are like neighborhood garage bands. Most fail. Few have the discipline and chemistry it takes to create a Linkin Park. But it doesn't have to be this way. The following are some simple rules that if you follow will create a study group that performs like an all star band.

Form a Study Group

Forming a study group isn't hard. Making it work, is.

The first steps in forming a study group is to pick your members, approach them, get their consent, choose a meeting place and time and then assign positions. For a study group to work their has to be a governance system and division of labor. You need a leader, timer, general members, and sometimes a treasurer. Bundling all these tasks to one person will exhaust them leading to poor function. Spreading the load amongst the study group is more efficient and leads to a smooth operation.

Study Group Leader

For a study group to work, one member must be the boss. The study group leader does not have to be you even if it was your idea. The study group leader needs to be the member who is most reliable and no-nonsense. A good study group leader has the executive power to call meetings, accept new members and fire members who repeatedly monkey around or in other way detract the group from their objectives. A good study group leader listens to feedback from the members and continually tries to improve the function of the group.

Study Group Timer

The study group timer determines when to meet, that meetings finish within a preordained time frame, and ensure that no single member hogs all of the discussion time. The study group timer can also create the master list of topics for the term and create the schedule to meet it.

Study Group Treasurer

A study group treasurer is not required, but can be useful to collect a nominal amount from each member e.g. to buy snacks for the group before each meeting, or paper and pencils etc

Study Group Advantages

The main advantages of forming a study group are

Online Study Group

Online study groups are virtual meetings. Members meet through their desktop or laptop from home or school. They do not even need to know each other! Meetings groups by topic can be found on social networks like Facebook and Myspace and through college intranets. You can also create your own online study group with friends at school through peer to peer software like Microsoft meeting or Skype conference video calls. The advantage of online study groups is the freedom to attend from home. Members who act the fool can also be disconnected without the hard feelings of a face to face reprimand.

Home Study Group

Home study groups can be rotated from one members home to another's each meet or be stationary at one members pad. The key is to have a home study group area that's large enough to accommodate everyone comfortably without distractions like TV or games running in the background, and with a central clearing to pool books and papers. Using one spot has the advantage of familiarity with repeated use. A bedroom can work just fine depending on your numbers. If one meeting feels cramped and unfruitful, then try another. Don't forget meeting room resources at your school or local library.

DR's Experience with Study Groups

Most study groups I've come across were just social clubs in disguise. There always seemed to be a person in each group who's uncontrollable curse of the gab would sink the study group into mindless chatter. So for most of my academic life, I've been a lone wolf. The few times I have found study groups to be useful is when they were conducted by a teacher or older student. Clumping friends together into a study group doesn't work any better than grouping friends together to run a business. There has to be a boss that you can hate but makes sure the study group stays on track and gets the objectives done. Otherwise you're wasting your time and could as well just meet at a pub over some drinks! -DR.

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Article Last Updated: August 31 2014
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