In today’s world, students are busier than ever. Juggling the time it takes to go to class and study with extracurricular activities, work, family responsibilities, and having a social life demands that students work smarter, not harder. The benefits of scheduling and participating in group study sessions are well-known but under-utilized by many students. Students who organize study groups on a regular basis achieve mastery over the content with more depth and breadth than solo-studying students.
1. Make Studying a Priority
One of the most difficult aspects of being a student is the life/school/work balance. Most students struggle with procrastination when it comes to the hard work of studying things that may be new or challenging. Making it a practice of scheduling, and participating in, group study sessions supports scheduled time of making schoolwork a priority. It helps when others in the group hold each other accountable for study time and participation. Group study sessions are a win for everyone involved.
2. Maximize Collaboration
The concepts of divide and conquer works very effectively when it comes to group study sessions. The strategy is to take the course materials and portion it out to every member of the group to study in depth and then summarize the salient points for the rest of the group. This strategy allows students to maximize their study time while still learning the most important aspects presented in all of the study materials. One example would be where there are multiple chapters assigned for that week’s readings, and the group can assign different chapters to different members of the group. Each member would then focus on their single chapter and create a summary page including vocabulary words with definitions and other key concepts.
3. Learn Faster and More Effectively
People learn best by putting things in context, thus the most effective way to maximize study time is to actively interact with the material as you learn it. Putting the concepts into a real-world context allows the neural connections to be built by connecting the new material with what people already know. Imagine that you are learning a complex formula in your statistics course. When you make that formula real to your brain by applying it to actual data then the concept of that formula is connected with additional areas of knowledge already in your brain. By connecting new knowledge to prior knowledge, you maximize your brain power as you study.
4. Build Supportive Networks
Group study sessions have dual benefits in terms of relationships. The first beneficial relationship is the interpersonal relationships and networking that goes on in group study sessions, especially ongoing sessions. It is extremely helpful to students to have strong support networks that help them with accountability and responsibility, and which can help with emotional support as well.
5. Maximize your Brain Power through Group Dialogue
Another relationship benefit of group study sessions comes from the conversations that occur during the sessions. Through the process of dialogue, students gain insight into differing perspectives and different ways of looking at the material. Brains are much like relational databases in that people make sense of new knowledge by examining it with what they already know. By learning about other people’s points of view, students expand their own understanding dramatically.
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Brains learn much faster when they are having fun. Working within study groups allows students to divide and conquer the material, naturally utilize higher order thinking skills, and enjoy the relationships that are built within the group and between the concepts. Smarter students use groups study sessions to go farther in school and in life.