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How to Make the Most Out of Your Study Group

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

At some point in our academic journey, everyone has encountered concepts and subject matter that challenged their understanding. When the going gets tough in your studies, discussing course content with peers can be one of the best ways to bridge the gaps in your understanding. Groups of students coming together to share their knowledge can be a power recipe to your success. Everyone benefits in the group as a whole when knowledge is shared. Being able to pinpoint the most effective strategies to optimize your group study involves taking a look at the organizational structure of your study group.

By incorporating aspects of a business meeting, your study group should plan an specific agenda. Focus on listing core concepts in your course that you want to master. If your course is broken into several modules, you should start my extracting the big idea from each module. Once you've done that, next comes the process of disseminating the various sections of that module to pull out key words and concepts intricately connected to the big idea.

Study group preparedness not only benefits you, but everyone in the group. An hour or two of preparation ahead of time goes a long way in preparing you to hash out any confusing concepts with your peers. Study group participants should not just show up hoping to latch onto a few words or phrases from the responses of others. Knowing the foundation on which your own knowledge is built, helps you identify where you need to extend yourself further.

As you prepare, summarize what you know about each topic in your course. Ensure that you give examples and include the necessary definitions for understanding the particular concept you are focusing on. When you meet with your study group, take turns discussing the topic and explaining it in your own way. Seize this opportunity to fill in the gaps in your understanding. For instance, you may have heard a study group mate use a more accurate explanation and applicable example than you may have brought to the table. Using a different colour pen or font (if you're typing), make additions to your notes using "new knowledge" from your peers. When complete, you will have a clear picture of where the shortcomings were in your own knowledge of the course content. Afterwards, this will give your independent study more direction.

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