So you’re getting ready to prepare for your exams. You have SPMflix.com on and you’re taking notes from one of the lesson videos. Next thing you know, there’s a knock on your door, a beep on your phone, and your room is suddenly filled with your classmates wanting to study together.
So what do you do now?
Benefits of Group Study
Students spend a large part of their lives in school working on projects and assignments, participating in co-curricular activities, and (most nerve-racking of all) preparing for exams. Like it or not, students will be put together to work on these and other assignments as a group at one point or another. And while students used studying alone may dislike these sessions, studying as a group offers unique benefits including:
Synergy in diversity
Each participant in a study group brings to the table their specific set of strengths and weaknesses. Diverse study groups encourage critical thinking and creativity as each member may view one topic from completely different points of view. This interactive environment is helpful for members to come to a deeper understanding of the topic being discussed especially when an agreement is made on the topic in question.
Benefits of conflict
But what happens when members of the study group cannot come to an agreement on a given topic? Instead of seeing conflicts like these as undesirable, these situations actually provide opportunities for deeper probing of a subject matter. Conflicts like these are even more beneficial if each member of the group takes turns to play the role of leading the discussion. In our experience, the best way to really test your understanding on a topic is to explain it to others - even if it’s a topic that you’re not particularly strong in. Working in groups provides members with the opportunity to act as each other’s sounding board, to check understanding and clarify unclear areas.
Focus, focus, focus
Instead of being an environment that promotes better focus, it’s even easier to give yourself excuses to procrastinate when studying alone. When you’re studying by yourself, you’ll want to go make a cup of Milo. Then you’ll want to check your Facebook wall and watch a couple of YouTube videos. Next thing you know, you’re three pages deep into a sub-Reddit page and your revision materials remain untouched. Not so when studying in a group - everyone present is there for a single purpose and any attempts at distracting yourself is likely to be met with resistance. There’s strength in numbers after all.
Group Study Hacks
Here are some rules to bear in mind when studying in groups to make sure that every participant achieves maximum benefits from the session
Define an objective/goal before each group study session
Study groups should get together with a clear purpose of what the group intends to achieve by the end of the session. Defining a goal helps the group to stay focussed on what they intend to achieve and helps eliminate opportunities for distraction.
Once an objective/ goal has been established, group study sessions are even more effective if each member comes to the table with some level of preparation for the session. This ensures that the group session becomes a forum for ideas and opinions to be exchanged and shaped, instead of one where every members is quietly absorbed in their own activity as they read up on the topic for the first time. This brings us to:
Every member of the group must contribute
The point of a study group is so that each participant can contribute their point of view on a topic to the group. This can only be done is if each member actively participates in the group discussion. Remember, the best way to really test your understanding on a topic is to explain it to others - even if it’s a topic that you’re not particularly strong in.