Thursday, December 5, 2013

Study Groups: Make Them Work for You

Working with others to prepare for exams can be an uplifting and productive experience.  However, it can also cause frustration and waste valuable study time.  Therefore, as you begin to prepare for your final exams, reflect on whether a study group could be a beneficial or whether you should steer clear of them.  If you decide to move forward with a study group keep these considerations in mind:

  • Think about your study goals and your expectations for the study group before agreeing to work with others. 
  • Be thoughtful about the group size, meeting times, and purpose.  Explicitly agree to all of these parameters.  A larger study group that meets at night may not be the most effective for you if you are not a night owl and prefer small groups.
  • Have each group member identify their learning style.  If 3 out of 4 are read/write learners and you are aural, it may not be the right group for you.
  • Establish a start time and an end time for your study group sessions.  Time is of the essence and you do not want your study group to take over all of your free time.
  • Try to keep open lines of communication.  End each session with a recap and reflection to discuss whether the session was productive.  Or, follow up via email with suggestions for the next group meeting. 
  • Create an agenda that will help each member of the study group come to the meeting prepared.  Knowing what to expect will help retain the focus of the group meeting and help everyone stay on task.
  • Give everyone in the study group a chance to take on a leadership role like: drafting the agenda, leading the discussion, providing handouts or examples, or scheduling the sessions.  When everyone plays a part in the process, a more cohesive group will develop.
  • When you leave you study group sessions, how do you feel?  If you feel positive, that is a good sign.  But, go one step further.  List the top five things you learned during the session.  You want more than a warm and fuzzy feeling after meeting with your study group.  Revisit your personal goals for the group session and make sure that you assess whether you are consistently meeting those goals.

Ultimately, a study group can be a great way for you to grasp difficult legal concepts and to review for final exams.  Additionally, a study group can provide a great support network and can help you avoid procrastination.  Good luck on your finals!

 

(Lisa Young)

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