BY SYLVIA KOHL
Starting a study group is relatively easy. Keeping a study group together, on the other hand, is far more difficult. If you want your study group to thrive, you’ll need to take proactive measures to keep the group active, keep your group members attending and participating, and attract new members.
How to Improve Student Retention
Assuming you’re in control of the group, either as the designated leader or as the person most likely to take responsibility for the group, there are some measures you can take to ensure your students keep coming back, week after week:
- Make a schedule and stick to it. One of the easiest ways to keep students coming back is to pick a firm schedule and stick to it, no matter what. If you keep changing the date, time, or location, some members are bound to get confused or frustrated, and they’re likely to leave as a result. You won’t be able to please everyone with your consistent schedule, but you will make it more likely for your attendees to stick around for the long haul.
- Create a tangible takeaway as a reminder. You can encourage repeat participation by giving all your study group members some kind of tangible takeaway. A small booklet or flyer should be enough to help your participants keep your group top of mind, and remind them of when and where you meet. Alternatively, if your group prefers more digital communication and reminders, you could setup a social media group or shared calendar to facilitate automatic reminders.
- Advertise your group on public boards. Go out of your way to advertise the group on public boards; after all, that’s what they’re for. The increased exposure should be enough to attract more people to the group. Those people will invite their friends, and soon, you’ll have small clusters of people constituting the bulk of the group. Those clusters will keep individuals within the clusters accountable, adding to the retentive power of the whole.
- Ask professors to announce your group. For a little extra leverage, ask your professors to mention the study group at the beginning or end of each lecture. This will aid in the recruitment process, but will also serve as a reminder to all study group participants that the group is still meeting on a regular basis. This makes it harder to ignore or forget about.
- Work with individuals. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd, especially as your study group keeps growing. If a member feels like they don’t get to participate often, or that they aren’t truly a part of the group, they’re not going to want to keep coming back. To prevent this and encourage more participation, focus your attention on individual members of the group. Make sure they introduce themselves, ask them to participate regularly, and work to understand their individual motivations for meeting. This makes people feel more invested in the experience, and will keep them coming back.
- Keep meetings interesting. Nobody will want to return to your study group if it’s like every other study group on campus. You’ll need to engage students’ creativity, present something unique, and make the experience a fun one. How you do that is up to you, the nature of the people in your group, and the type of class you’re taking. As long as you make the experience a memorable one, people will want to keep coming back.
Why Retention Is Important
Why is it worth the extra effort? Study groups that retain high numbers of students and participation see the following benefits:
- They last longer. Groups with more people will naturally last longer, since individual departures will be less likely to impact the longevity of the group.
- They utilize more diverse viewpoints. Diversity is important if you want your meetings to be productive. Having a large number of students will automatically bring more diverse viewpoints and study angles to the group.
- They recruit other people. Big groups attract even more members—because clearly, you’re doing something right. That helps the group last even longer.
- They meet consistently. Finally, big groups with long-time members naturally meet more consistently—and that predictability is a good thing for everyone involved.
Don’t let your study group fall apart the week after it was created. If you want to keep getting the most use out of your study group, go out of your way to keep your students together.
Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 8 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and she convinced that learning process doesn’t stop after years in school and university.