Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How to Set Up and Maximize Study Groups

As a first year student with a clean slate and a full list of required classes, the options for enrollment were pretty open. A few weeks before the semester, I selected and added the classes I planned to take.  I was attempting to set up a well- balanced schedule and to fit in all of my classes into a convenient schedule of classes one and a half days a week. There were also a couple of classes I was putting aside and hoping to delay until the last necessary minute, because of my own fears of how difficult they would be. 

However, after attending fall orientation and meeting some new friends there, we talked about the classes we were enrolled in, and I decided to change my schedule. Now having met students in a similar situation, I decided to join them in one of the classes I was dreading, with the agreement that we would struggle through the course together!

Several weeks now into the course, we have met several times and worked through the difficult assignments together, and have been available to meet at certain fixed times in the week with anyone who is able to meet that day. We are all learning together, and it is wonderful to know that when there are new concepts being taught in class that day, that we are not alone in this challenge. The intimidation I felt about the class has disappeared and what matters most is spending dedicated time to learning, and having a network to contact for help and support.

I have found that study groups are amazing. They're a great way to make friends with your classmates and to learn collectively and effectively. Also, being part of a study group makes the class more fun. Here are some suggestions on how to set up a study group and how to maximize your learning capabilities from this resource.

1. Plan to enroll in classes with other students you have already met and consider those who could be good study partners.  If you have met at a school event or are introduced through friends or faculty this is a great start. Suggest working together as a group with classmates who might be taking the same classes you need to complete.

2. Arrange a time to meet regularly on a weekly basis. Setting up this regular schedule will also help you with your time management skills as you set aside important study time each week. Use this time to ask any questions about the lesson, review what was discussed in class, and to go through homework as a group.

3. Find out where study rooms are located and reserve them when you can. Having a quiet study room space will help to keep the group focused on the assignment and to keep all students on the same "page" of the discussion. Check with your library or school faculty about group study room options.

4. Attend professor office hours together as a group when possible. This can help if your classmates may remember to ask questions you may have forgotten to ask, and also can help increase learning as different students remember different important points made about assignments.

5. Keep in touch with your study group network throughout the semester/term and plan to continue studying together in future classes. Once you have determined a great group of classmates to work with, keep this in mind when you enroll in any future classes that they may also need to take.

Being part of a study group, I feel like my learning has been more concentrated and more effective, and that I am more efficient with my time each week. Finally, spending additional time alone to study, to absorb the information, and  to successfully accomplish the assignments individually is what will ultimately be an indicator of how much was eventually learned at exam time! Best of success to you as you study with your group!

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