Harvard discovered that one of the best predictors of college success was having a study group. Would your students benefit?
Study groups can help students stay motivated and organized. In fact, it’s shown that they can be even more effective than classroom discussions in helping students learn and remember.
If you have students who struggled first semester, or just lacking motivation or enthusiasm, consider encouraging them to form study groups. Be sure to help guide them, as there is clear evidence of what works, and what doesn’t, in study groups.
Rule #1: Manageable Size
Keep a group size of 3 to 5 members so everyone has an opportunity to actively participate while allowing for diversity of opinion.
Rule # 2 Shared Goals
Ideally all participants have a similar objective for the outcome. If some members are striving for an “A” while others would be happy with a “B” conflicts are more likely to arise.
Rule #3: Similar Learning Strengths
Group students by how they learn best. While personal chemistry is important, it should be no surprise that best friends are often not the best study buddies. Nor are students with very different strengths (note that this is unlike project teams where complimentary strengths are very helpful). Instead, consider grouping students with similar learner profiles. If all group members understand better with visuals, the group will have a lot more synergy than if half the group thinks visuals are an inefficient use of time. Or if most of the group has strong memory but one person needs more repetition, you can imagine disagreements.
Rule #4 Time and Structure
It takes time for most study groups to develop an effective working rhythm. Allow a few meetings for the group to gel before preparing for a high stakes test. Like all teams, study groups benefit from clear ground rules and an effective way to manage differences of opinion.