Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Start a Study Group - Here's How

I am a huge fan of study groups.  Accountability is important – and working cooperatively to prepare for tests, quizzes, and final exams is a great way to get ready for the material. In my book I also talk about how they are a great way to start making friends and building a learning community. 

But, if the show Community on NBC has taught us anything, it is that study groups need parameters. 

So here are my must-dos for study groups.

1. Study ahead of time – don’t be that guy (or girl). Study groups should never be your only means of studying. One of the biggest hindrances to study groups is that guy who shows up with a bunch of excuses about why he hasn't studied yet and that he's finally ready to get serious. He's relying on you to give him all the answers. Don't be that guy! Because it doesn't work. You should study by yourself for a few hours before you engage in a study group. The study group is an opportunity to recall what you've studied - not to start from scratch. The study group should take your preparation from a B+ to an A+. 

2. Make it an open group – at least initially. Since you are going to prepare ahead of time, the study group serves as an opportunity to recall the information and interact with others - anyone interested will be a great asset. When you are a commuter student especially, it should be an opportunity to expand connections with your classmates. But don't be afraid to politely ask someone to leave if they are not being helpful towards the study group's goals. 

3. Create a game-plan for the session.  How will you study? Will it be a free-for-all or will you have some sort of coordinated strategy? The best study groups are the ones with a leader or two - people who think about the study group ahead of time and help create a structure that allows everyone to get involved. 

I often led study groups and would create games we could play with the content using notecards; we'd go around the room quizzing each other, and would pause on any topics we felt we needed to discuss further. Don't assume someone else will create this for you. Be that leader and not only will you help others, you will benefit tremendously (e.g. anytime I led a study group like this I usually got a 98-100 on the exam). 

4. Generate questions. Anticipate what questions will be on the test and try to create a practice test the group can go over together. Before you meet you can assign each person in the group a role in terms of what part of the practice "test" to create and then you can quiz each other when you meet for the study group, moving through the material with focus and direction. 

5. Make it a habit. Fine-tune your group (if one session seems flawed, fix it or move on) and then make a habit out of meeting.  Study groups can be fun, can keep you accountable, and can help you build a fun and thriving learning community.   

Give these tips a try and let me know if you have any more questions about your group at advice@communitycollegesuccess.com! If you are already in a study group, see if these things can help improve the quality of your session.  Study groups should be fun – but more importantly, productive.  Find that balance and enjoy :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?