Why study groups are useful

We all study in different ways, but why are group study sessions beneficial?

As much as we may think we are isolatory creatures, we are in fact more group or pack animals. We thrive on the feedback of others and we learn from each other. Think back to when you were a child – how did you learn to do most things, from writing to riding a bike? Someone showed you, or you learnt by observing and then doing. Studying is no different.

Here are 5 reasons why studying in a group can be beneficial:

1. Fact checking The members of your study group or able to keep you on the straight and narrow so to speak. Imagine you confused two very similar facts or pieces of information. This simple mistake could cost you dearly in an exam, especially if you were basing an essay on that information. By running through these facts in a study group, a team member may be able to pick that error up and save you dearly.

2. Learning by doing In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the benefit of re-writing your notes (check it out here). Similarly, if you are presenting your knowledge to a group, you are speaking and hearing the information from another source (sound and speech, rather than just black & white text). By presenting the information to your brain in a different format, you are able to keep your brain engaged, stimulating retention of knowledge. This also provides you with a chance to logically structure your thoughts on a specific topic, aiding in the understanding the content and being able to apply it.

3. Repetition When in a study group, you are able to repeat information just by talking about it, sharing your collective knowledge sources. One group member may have come up with a memorable mnemonic to remember a string of info, while another may have a great analogy to explain a complex process. By sharing this in a group, and repeating the info, for example when learning a mnemonic, everyone gets to benefit, and it can be really fun!

4. Discussion enhances understanding By being able to talk a problem through with someone, you are able to discuss the topic. By discussing it, you fill in gaps in your own knowledge. This can also be used in groups to cover a wide variety of topics in a shorter space of time. If every group member summarises a specific topic and then shares their findings with the group, the discussion around this leads to logical pathways regarding that information forming in your memory.

5. Manages expectations and stress When you study in a group, you can realistically compare your stage of learning to peers, instead of sitting at home alone, thinking that everyone else has worked harder, and knows more than you. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to comparisons. By having an actual yard stick to measure your learning against, instead of that imaginary one, your stress levels will be much lower. This is particularly important now due to self-isolation during CV19.

Some my students currently holding online study groups, and they are really benefiting from this, in more than just learning. The social aspect of these groups during CV19 is also very important! So are these.

So consider forming a study group of 2 or more - you may be surprised just how much you learn.

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