Helping Students Understand the Benefits of Study Groups

Would your students benefit from participation in a study group? Are you too busy to organize and supervise study groups for students in your courses? I’m guessing the answer to both questions is yes. If so, here are some ways teachers can encourage and support student efforts to study together without being “in charge” of the study groups.

Promote study groups – First, include a list of reasons why students should join study groups in the syllabus or on the course website. Maybe there’s a short podcast available in which you talk about the usefulness of study groups. Better yet, if you’ve got some students who studied together in a previous course, ask them to make some comments about their experiences. Second, talk regularly in class about study groups. You can repeat all the benefits, suggest activities that involve good group study strategies, or propose some things they could study together (like problems they could solve, questions they could discuss). You also can solicit feedback from study groups in class or mention content you discussed with a group during office hours.

Make study groups an option – Encourage students to organize their own groups, but offer to help with the process. Nudge them with reminders, such as “Send me an email if you’re interested in being part of a study group.” Have study groups “register” their members, and then report on meeting times and activities. Suggest study activities for the group (ideas like those offered in the next item). Invite the group to meet with you during office hours or to send questions electronically. Offer registered study groups that report regular meetings a bonus point incentive depending on the average of their individual test grades. Let all students know that joining a study group is an option throughout the course.

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