Study group(s)? No one really knows it all, I remember my mom say this to me almost every time I complain about not understanding a particular concept during my studies. I thought she was wrong because I had one of the smarter girls in my class. She seemed to know it all until she came to me to ask about a math problem. My eyes almost popped out of its sockets but then I gathered courage and told her how I thought she new everything. She simply smiled and said,” I study with a study group and that is what helps me”.
I was shocked to the bone. She then went on to tell me her secret of being part of a study group. I followed her advice to form a study group with others from my class, and the impact was immediate.
What I share with you here are my own experiences and insights. I have tried my best to reveal all the secrets I have learned from having organized and participated in study groups all my academic life.
What is a Study Group
A study group refers to a group of people who meet regularly to study and discuss a particular topic or subject.
The Merriam Webster dictionary also defines a study group as “a group of people joining in the study of a particular topic, and usually meeting at scheduled intervals to discuss individual observation, reading and research.
Also, the Wikipedia defines a group study as a small group of people who regularly meet to discuss shared fields of study. These groups can be found in high schools, colleges and junior high and primary schools.
From the three definitions, we get to realize that a study group involves people, the number of people should be small, and they meet regularly, at intervals, to discuss their observations, reading and research. Also, the group discusses issues based on shared interest. The group can be formed or created in high schools, junior schools, primary schools and colleges.
Interesting eh! Well that takes us to how study groups are formed.
How to form a Study Group
There is no one way of forming a study group. However, if you plan to form one, ensure that your numbers are not great. The maximum number should be 12 people, but ideally, it could range from 2 to 5.
Also, ensure that the people you add to your group are people you have the same field of study with, and are serious minded.
Steps to Maximize the Value of Study Group(s)
Not all study groups are effective. Some even don’t last for a whole week. This is wrong and defeats the whole concept of study groups. The question then is how do you make a study group worth your time?
Plan and Plan ahead
Planning is very important if you want your study group to be of good value. Your planning should cover areas such as where the group would meet, how long meetings would last each day and also which days the group would meet.
When your study group has all these in place, it promotes order and hence improves the relevance of the study group.
The group size should not be large
I have already mentioned this but I want to emphasize it here again. For you to see the full benefits of a study group, make that the group size is not more than 10. Maximum is 12 however; I prefer a group made of 5 effective members.
Don’t worry about a large size for numbers does not prove to be effective in a study group but rather a distraction. Keep the numbers small and see the difference that would make.
Chose a Moderator
A moderator leads the discussion any time you meet. He ensures sanity and discipline in the group activities. You can decide to choose different moderators any time you meet or one person can moderate whenever you meet.
For best practice, always allow different people to moderate at different days especially based on their knowledge or expertise on the subject or topic for study.
Don’t get your Best Friends involved
I know this is up for disagreement but just let me explain myself. Friends are good assets and can help you in diverse ways, even when it comes to your studies. However, friends can also be distracters. They can lead you to all sorts of folly leading away from your aim of studies.
The decision is wholly yours to make here but be wise in choosing. If your best friend is not ready to learn and would rather dedicate his or her time to other things of no benefits, then I would say run away. On the hand, when your friend is very serious towards studies and encourages you more to study every day, then hold on to him or her tightly.
Like I said, the decision is yours to make here.
Other Tips for Maximizing Study Group(s)
Get difficult concepts discussed at Study group meetings
Rather than discussing generic things which is easier for everyone to grasp, make it a point to pick up difficult topics or concepts to discuss.
For instance, when you are thought a topic and you don’t understand, bring it up at your group discussion and let everyone research the topic. This makes your discussions very fruitful and opens the group to new scope of ideas.
Really do a Discussion and not quiz
The main focus of study groups is to make discussions and not a question and answer platform. Not that the question and answer method is wrong, but it would be more useful and appropriate after a thorough discussion.
The discussions helps others in the group to better understand concepts being discussed, hence they would also contribute meaningfully when it comes to the quiz aspect.
When you do a group study with questions and answers, only a hand full would contribute, and most they would be playing a game of guess it right. To prevent this which could lead to the group dissolving, start with a discussion, then test yourselves with a quiz.
Be ready to share and share more
To have a successful group study, all members must be ready to share the knowledge. There is no point in people keeping their ideas in their heads and absorb what others have as well. That is greed.
Watch out for greedy group members who would not like to contribute to the knowledge bank of the group but would want to benefit from the group.
Like mentioned earlier, a group study when fully maximized for success, comes with great benefits for all members. What possible could some of these benefits be?
Benefits of Studying in a Study Group
Helps you to cover more grounds in your studies – with a well organized study group, you have the advantage of learning ahead of the rest of the class, thereby covering more in your studies. The research you do before a meeting also exposes you to variety of materials thereby deepening your understanding of a particular topic or concept.
Study group(s) improves your notes – through study groups, you have the opportunity to improve your study notes. Possible, you could not take all the notes during a lesson, but at group meetings, you get to compare notes during discussions and this gives you a heads up to fill in any blanks in your own notes.
Study groups also serve as support system – support systems simple means a system where there is available help in times of need. We all come to a point where we may need some help, not necessarily academics but could be emotional help. Study groups can provide such support for individuals ensuring a sense of well being to further their academic agenda.
You get to benefit from each other’s talents in study group – we all have varieties of talents as well as posses strengths and weakness in some areas. At group studies, all talents are brought on the table for the mutual benefit of group members.
You may be great in mathematics, another might also be great in languages, yet another may be very good at calculus in math. When this pool of talents is brought together during discussions, all group members benefit as they learn from the experts of the various aspect of studies.
Makes learning more fun – study groups takes away the stress and rigorousness mostly involved in personal studies. It makes learning more fun as your attention level is heightened and boredom is removed.
The satisfaction derived from learning with a group cannot be spelt out fully here. All I can say after this, is that try and get yourself into a study group or better still form one yourself taking a cue from the guidelines above.
A study group adds variety to your academic life, making things seamless and less stressful during the course of your studies. Put it to a try or if you are already part of one, let me know what you think.