Some students find that the Study Group method helps to learn
some kinds of material faster and better. However, it must be
used in a particular way, otherwise it is frustrating and a waste
The following guidelines will help to plan and carry out the
method in a way to ensure that it works for you.
- The size of the group is important. It can involve as few as
two, but a more desirable number is between three and six. Then
if one member cannot make the meeting, the group can still carry
on. Members should be taking the same course, and be able to get
together on a regular basis.
- One person should act as Chair, to see that the method is
carried out correctly, without too much idle talk or one person
getting excess "air time."
- An agenda should be prepared for each meeting, with each
member responsible to report on or explain a section of the
reading or to give the answers to selected questions.
- All members must do their homework of preparing for the
meeting, each preparing hls/her assigned parts, and all making
themselves familiar with all the material.
- The group meeting should be conducted to cover all the
reports within the planned time - from one to two hours depending
on the agenda. Each person should make his/her presentation so
good that it "teaches" the material to the others. Then the
presentation should be questioned and discussed freely and
thoroughly, with everyone participating. Finally, each should
make brief notes on the important ideas that were brought out.
- The next step is to take about five minutes to talk about the
value of the session, and in particular to discuss ways in which
each member could make it better next time.
- The final step is to plan the agenda for the next meeting,
after which members may reward themselves with socializing.
It may take two or three sessions to get the method working, but
if you stick to it and follow the procedure, it will usually
increase learning and make it more interesting. If the method
suits your learning style and the course material, form a Study
Group and give it a fair trial. If, by chance, it does not work,
adapt it. And if that fails, drop it. Always and only go with