Collaboration is a great skill for college students to learn and practice. Joining or creating a study group is an easy way to experience the benefit of your peers’ knowledge. These kinds of support systems, whether in the form of other students, your family, or your professors, can be an invaluable resource for college students.

Creating your study group

It might be tempting for college students to create a study group with their friends and view their meetings as a time to hang out. To truly get the benefit of a study group, you should treat it as much more than a fun excuse to be with friends. Support systems such as a study group offer a way to focus on goals that you have for your course or an area of study. For instance, Michael Frank examined how a study group can aid those learning another language in his article, “Study Groups for Learning a Second Language,” for the January 1, 2016 issue of Communique, National Association of School Psychologists.

He advises study groups to start by developing a concrete goal of what the group wants to accomplish. Then figure out the steps to make that happen. Frank wrote, “Our approach capitalizes on positive peer pressure by requiring members to declare their goals to the group.” So your fellow college students help you, as well as themselves, to stay on track.

The benefit of support systems

College students who work together in a study group can help each other in many ways. Here are the top five reasons you should utilize a study group:

  1. Procrastinate no more. If you have established set times to meet, you can’t put off studying like you could if you were studying by yourself.
  2. Find a new perspective. The other members of your study group will have different ideas and perspectives than you do—that’s a good thing.
  3. Eliminate boredom. When you join a study group, it usually makes the act of studying a little less monotonous.
  4. Be more accurate. Maybe you missed class one day or wrote down something now that you can’t read. Your study partners can help you fill in that missing information.
  5. Learn new things. Your fellow college students may have a study technique they use that could help you. Plus working with others may actually help you learn faster, especially if you are stuck on something that they can explain.

Overcoming obstacles

Support systems such as a study group can be a great way to help you overcome certain obstacles to learning that college students may encounter. Walter Pauk, with Ross J.Q. Owens, discussed strategies for studying that can be adapted for a group in How to Study in College, 11th Edition. The writers highlighted the importance of class discussions, something a study group can continue outside of class.

Pauk and Owens wrote of class discussions, “They encourage active learning, allow for a kind of recitation that rivals most solitary study, and, perhaps most important, provide an opportunity to reflect on ideas through the perspectives of multiple minds instead of simply your own. That’s why it’s vital to treat discussions with the respect they deserve.” (Pauk/Owens, 342)

Reference: Pauk, Walter; Owens, Ross J.Q. 2014. How to Study in College, 11th ed. Boston, MA. Cengage Learning.

What benefits of study groups have you experienced? Share your thoughts below.