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Are you more likely to do better in a class if you create a study group?

The past two years in #college I have done everything in my classes alone and I have done pretty well, but on the other hand, my brother does nothing alone. He studies with his friends, he exchanges numbers with the people in his classes and he always has study groups at our house. I'm curious to see what makes a class easier to understand and do well in. #studying-tips #studying

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Suzanne’s Answer

Hi Kyra - This is a great question, and I would say that studying alone and studying with a group can both be beneficial. When I was studying for an exam, I normally would first study by myself to get a baseline understanding of the topics, and then work with a group to help me on areas that weren't as easy for me to understand. Some pros of a study group:

1) Your classmates can help you with topics that you might not understand as well.

2) You could help someone else with a topic that you know well - which helps you understand it even better.

3) You get to know your classmates better and expand your group of friends.

Some cons of a study group:

1) If you don't have a great understanding to start, it can be hard to learn it all in a group setting.

2) Not having the right people for the study group. You don't want a group of people that aren't interested in studying and ask you to teach them everything, and you also don't want a bunch of know-it-alls :). Choose wisely.

Check out this link for more tips!

Hope this helps!

Suzanne recommends the following next steps:

Reach out and find other people to study with in your class!
Thank you comment icon Step 1: Study alone and get basic understanding. Step 2: Join a study group to check your understanding and help others. Rafique Pandhare
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Chirayu’s Answer

Creating a study group can be beneficial for several reasons, and it may help you do better in a class. Here are some potential benefits of studying with a group. Discussing class materials with others can help you gain a deeper understanding of the material. You can ask questions, share your perspective, and learn from others. When you're part of a study group, you're more likely to stay on track with your assignments and study goals. Knowing that others are counting on you can help you stay motivated and focused. Studying with others can expose you to different perspectives and approaches to the material. This can help you see the material in a new light and improve your problem-solving skills. Studying with others can be a more enjoyable and less stressful experience than studying alone. You can share the workload and support each other through challenging assignments or exams. That being said, everyone has different learning styles and preferences, and what works for your brother may not work for you. It's important to experiment and find what study strategies work best for you. If you prefer to study alone, that's perfectly fine. The most important thing is to find a method that helps you learn and succeed in your classes.




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Kairat’s Answer

Under certain conditions (low-level bachelor course, large number of students), I think group study is a must. As a teacher, I require my students to study in groups. See https://raisingthebar.nl/2018/11/04/little-tricks-for-ap-statistics/ for more information
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Brenda’s Answer

Hi Kyra -

The short answer is Yes. I'm pretty smart and I do pretty well in school; however the times that I used study groups, I went from just getting an "A" in the course, to actually understanding and embracing the material. The study groups are good because it is a discussion group, not a lecture, with the freedom to have discourse with interruptions and listen to differing opinions and coming to a conclusion which can end up with profound, deeply thought out questions to take back to the professor. THAT is education.
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Peter’s Answer

Hi Kyra,

A study group can be very useful in helping you do well in a class, but this is largely dependent on your particular studying style and personality. For example, if you suffer social anxiety when interacting with groups of people, then a study group (or at least a large study group) would likely be counter-productive to studying. Some people learn better by reading material while others learn better by hearing, and some learn best by doing.

If you do form a study group, you should make sure that the members are compatible and have the same objectives. For example, if some members want to get an A in the class while others just want to do the minimum work to pass the course, this will likely lead to conflict and the group disbanding. The group members should have similar study habits and preferences. For instance, if some members like to hear background music while studying while others need absolute silence to concentrate, this will lead to conflict. If some members like to study early in the morning, while others are night owls, this will also lead to conflicts.

An effective study group should have a regular schedule (e.g., once per week or twice per week) and have a specific objective for each study group meeting/session (e.g., go over Chapter 5, review E1 and E2 elimination reactions). Everyone should be expected to have prepared for the study group meeting (.e.,g., read the materials, done the homework or practice problems in advance). Finally, ground rules should be established upfront (e.g., who gets to talk when, start and end times, location and responsibility for hosting).

In my opinion, study group sessions should be devoted to working problems (especially in math or science classes) or discussion of the class material. Getting together simply to read silently as a group is not very useful, and can be accomplished alone.

I have participated in many study groups over my lifetime. Some have been very helpful (even when I already knew the material well studying by myself), and others have been absolute disasters. The key is to be able to assess early on whether a particular study group is working, and to cut your losses (by leaving the study group) if it is not working for you.

Good luck in college.

Thank you comment icon This is a good comprehensive answer Kairat Mynbaev
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Lamar’s Answer

While working by yourself may be easier it does not necessary offer you the benefit of alternative ideas. Plus, almost without exception you will be working in groups during your career, learning to manage the conflict that normally arises working with groups is a desired skill sought by employers. In my classes I typically have two team projects, in the first one I let the students pick their teams, in the second one I let the computer set up the teams.

When I was a hiring manger I did not necessary look for "technical skills" as I could teach technology. I was more interested in personality and the ability to work in groups as I could not teach personality.
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Liz’s Answer

Hi Kyra, from my experience and expertise (business as well as academic, as a professor), I know a study group absolutely helps you do better in class because everyone has different strengths and knowledge sharing has been shown to decrease stress and increase brainpower that helps you learn. (One of my favorite scientists on the topic of brainpower is Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard, whose book "The Breakout Principle" has numerous examples of this. Studying in a group, on a common goal, also helps you prepare to work productively and collaboratively with others when you start your career, as you apply respect and appreciation for differences in personality, temperament, ages, background, interests, AND, most important, what you're good at that you can teach someone else, and vice versa. That being said, the *success* of individuals in a study group depends on the quantity and quality of the people in the group - 4 or 5 (max!) is the usual rule. The complementary (note that's an "e" in the middle) skills the members bring to the group are crucial. For example, I enrolled in an MBA program at NYU after success for 20 years in marketing, strategy and organizational development - but I was NOT fond of accounting, calculus and other math. At NYU, they teamed me in a study group with younger and very math-oriented individuals, and I'm happy to say we all worked very hard, learned so much from one another, and earned very good grades. Consequently my MBA concentration turned out to be Finance (very MATH oriented) and Leadership, and my professors suggested I transition to teaching at the college level (which I now do, and i work with nonprofits to improve their finances).

Liz recommends the following next steps:

Think about compatibility first: who's a person that has your back, is a good student, willing to do a study group, and can recruit others with you?
Then the two of you should think of two more students with different skills, for example: someone who's good at research, a good writer, a good presenter, etc., or math vs. English, e.g. Also, someone who's good at engaging the teacher. Establishing a rapport with your teacher(s) goes a long way; s/he'll know you're genuinely interested, which is often graded.
Set up regular times to meet, and stick to definite start and end times, if possible. For term papers, tough exams, group presentations or the like, do a weekly plan that ends with the due date, then work backwards and make assignments (fairly, please), so everyone in the group has a responsibility and accountability. At your study group meetings, always summarize next steps and who's doing what. Get in the habit now of avoiding those dreaded "all-nighters."
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Ranganath(Ravi)’s Answer

it all depends on the personality and type of work a person is involved in. For example: you prefer do research and preparation via online or textbook or any other channel. Using this research or learning process you did well in school.
Your brother might be doing the same via his friends and using brainstorming or a discussion as a means for research/learning. After this he got into execution mode.

Both the approaches are ok but in your brothers case, he can get distracted or side tracked or Mia informed if someone else did not do their research or learning correctly. In your case you may not have as much information as your brother as he has more channels of information than you.

Hope it makes sense

Ranganath(Ravi) recommends the following next steps:

I can guide via a phone or in person
Thank you comment icon It is a good idea Ahmed Shobair
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Sayra Mohmand,’s Answer

A group or class study is an experience sharing platform. Students get to learn with their already existing skills and also they learn how to approach different topics when they learn in groups specially of groups are more diverse. If a student gets confused on a topic or chapter, the IDEA of not knowing the topic has more impact than the actual amount of knowledge of the topic! If the student experiences the same thing in a group, the IDEA of not knowing a topic has less impact on the learning compared to individual study. Also class study is more strategic and introduces the individual to adopt more productive approach to learning.
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Kyra,

Groups can be positive or negative. The challenge with any group is having the same focus on studying and learning. I have been in study groups where some people are just looking for you to do their homework for them. I found that it is always helpful to have someone going through the same experience as you to give you a different perspective. It is not just about knowledge. Sometimes, someone else explaining something in a different way will help you understand a concept. That happens a lot when I am in a class. I turn to another student and ask - what did that mean? And another person often helps me since they usually say something with simpler words or with an example that makes the point.

Gloria
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Simeon’s Answer

It's not always a guaranteed pay-off. Many study groups are much more likely to just goof off for hours at a time and socialize. For people who have a hard time focusing, socializing while studying can be very helpful in getting them to study at all, but if you are good at studying alone, I would suggest taking advantage of the positive aspects of study groups by doing one once a month to compare notes and talk about the class. It also highly depends on the people you're studying with. If you find people that are able to stay on task, a study group can be one of the best ways to study. Plus, it's another good way to network.
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