By David Gutierrez
Few studying ideas are as polarizing as the concept of “group study.” On one hand, working together with others has a lot of advantages. You’ll be better motivated to study if you’re held socially responsible for meeting up, you’ll get to exchange ideas with people who have different perspectives, and you can play games or use other interesting, interactive methods to learn new material, rather than burying your nose in a book.
The downsides are what make group studying a challenging notion for many. Not only do you have the possibility of getting stuck in a group you don’t get along with—you also have to go through the trouble of coordinating study time with everyone’s busy schedules. You can’t change anyone’s personality—but you can implement strategies that make it easier to coordinate group study.
Coordinating Group Study
If you’re struggling to get your group together, try using some or all of these strategies:
- Use a voice broadcast or mass message system. The easiest way to get several people up to speed at once is to use a voice broadcasting or mass text messaging system, which can distribute a message to your entire network of contacts in mere minutes. This is especially helpful for larger groups, where managing communication can be nightmarish in complexity.
- Set expectations early. Don’t set up a vague “group study” meeting and opt to iron out the details later. If you want the group to be successful, you need to set expectations going in. How often are you going to meet? What are you going to cover when you meet? Can anybody join at any time? Will you be doing anything special for major upcoming exams? Let people know what type of group this is in advance to avoid problems later.
- Establish a regular meeting time and place. Along those same lines, it’s best if you set a regular meeting time and place as soon as possible—for example, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in the library. That way, you proactively avoid scheduling issues that will invariably come up throughout the week. If someone can’t make it one week, they can’t make it—the meeting will still take place at its regular time. If the majority of the group votes for a change, it can still happen, but this avoids weekly struggles to set a time and place.
- Designate a leader. It’s not necessary to designate a leader, but it can make communication easier. If one person is responsible for sending out messages and making the final call on certain decisions, it can avoid an apathetic pit of indecision that groups can sometimes fall into. If you’re not into having a leader, consider rotating responsibilities every week, so there’s a new leader cycled in regularly.
- Set agendas for each meeting. Setting an agenda for any type of meeting will make it more productive; it gives everyone a common goal and a framework in which to work. Have your leader come up with an agenda for each of your meetings, or decide on the agenda as a group. In any case, set a time for each item—even if you go off course, you’ll still have a skeletal framework to get started with.
- Use multiple mediums. Not everybody communicates the same way. Some people prefer texts, while others prefer email, and others prefer social media. When you need to update the group, such as sending out a study recap or changing the date of this week’s meeting, make sure you use multiple mediums. That way, you can guarantee your messages will reach all your intended recipients and you can avoid the “you never told me that” problem.
- Understand individual goals. Everybody within your group will likely have individual goals, in addition to the group goals of increasing knowledge and getting better grades. For example, some people might specifically want to study for exams, while others may want to use it as a place to go over recent lessons for clarity. The best way to keep a group effective is to cater to these individual goals as much as possible without compromising the main directive of the group.
Deciding Whether Group Study Is Right for You
Group studying isn’t ideal for everyone. It comes with a number of drawbacks, and some people simply work better when they’re alone. However, it’s definitely worth attempting the group approach, especially if you’re new to studying in college. If you follow these best practices for coordinating and executing your group studying efforts, you’ll be far more successful—and less stressed in the attempt. After just a few sessions, you should have a good feel for whether or not the group approach is right for you, and if it isn’t, you can always go back to studying individually.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.