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Work Effectively in Groups

Why Create a Study Group?

Whether in person or online, group study can be an effective way to learn. Students who study together can fill in gaps in their notes, check for understanding of course concepts, learn study strategies from each other, and practice using terminology from the course.

Before you create your own study group, check to see if your course already has supports in place. Supported Learning Groups (SLGs) offer facilitated study groups, led by upper-year students, in many courses. Check below for  more information.

Identify Your Reasons for Creating a Study Group

To create an effective study group, first think about your own goals.

  • What do you want to do in your study group? Some possibilities might be:
    • Meet other people in your class and program
    • Discuss content together throughout the semester
    • Quiz each other before midterms or finals
    • Ask questions when you don't understand something
    • Share study notes
    • Create study guides, concept maps, or other study materials together
  • What are your expectations for your group members? Some possibilities might be:
    • attend every study group session
    • do readings or problem sets before the sessions
    • participate actively in each session

Decide How Your Study Group Will Work

  • How many members do you want in your group? Small groups are easier to facilitate, and large groups bring more diverse perspectives.
  • Would you like your group to meet every week, or just once to discuss a challenging unit or to prepare for a test?
  • When would you like to meet? Identify a few times when you would like to meet, rather than saying you can meet anytime.
  • You may want to think about what platform you'll use for getting together. As a University of Guelph student, you have access to Webex and Teams. Zoom and Google Meet can also be used, but you'll need to make sure every group member has access.

Advertise Your Study Group

  • Write a brief description of your study group, including your goals and some details about how the group will work.
  • If your course has Supported Learning Groups, this is a great place to find study partners.
  • Post your description in your class's CourseLink site on appropriate discussion boards that your instructor has set up.
  • If your course isn't set up with a place to find study group partners, look for other opportunities. There may be related Teams or Facebook groups for your major or program. For safety and privacy reasons, use your University of Guelph email address for your contact information.

Host Your First Study Group Meeting

Get your study group off to a strong start by taking time in the first meeting to address these issues:

  • Discuss why you're there. Everybody should take a turn explaining what they'd like to get out of the study group.
  • Decide how often you want to meet. It's usually best to meet at the same time each week.
  • If you're going to share notes or documents, discuss where you are going to store the information. OneDrive, Google, and Dropbox are popular options.
  • Share contact information with your study group.
  • Discuss how you'd like to organize each session. It might be helpful to take turns organizing each session, with one person chosen to send a reminder about the upcoming study group, get discussion started once you meet, and/or compile questions for your instructor or TA.

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