Getting together with a few students from class can be a great way to share ideas, tricks, tips and methods to help students to prepare for a big test or exam. Unfortunately, the wrong study group dynamic could also lead to mass confusion, distraction and poor test performance. Consider some of the following guidelines when helping your student put together a successful study session.
Size: A successful study group has 3-4 members, 5 at the max. Having too many members can result in a lot of distractions, extra chatter and wasted time.
When To Meet: Deciding on a specific day and time to meet will ensure all of the members are able to attend the study sessions and can get the most out of each meeting. It is also important to agree on how long each session will be.
Commitment: Make sure each member is serious about coming prepared and making the most out of each session. If three members are there for test prep, and two are there for the coffee and chit-chat, the dynamic of the group will effect how much learning and teaching is actually accomplished
Who’s In Charge: Designate a leader/facilitator. This person will be in charge of keeping the group on task, maintaining communication with the members throughout the week, and sending out texts/emails to remind members of upcoming meetings.
What’s Being Covered: The group should agree on what topics will be covered in the next meeting BEFORE the next meeting. This can be decided by the facilitator, or discussed at the end of the previous study session. This prevents wasted time at the beginning of each meeting trying to decide where to start
Applications vs. Concepts: When the study session is in full swing, it’s easy to focus on how to solve each problem and focus on the application process. However, it is easy to overlook the specific concepts that are also important to the topic. At the beginning of each session, take some time to cover the concepts and make sure everyone understands them, as this will set the foundation for teaching and learning how to apply them to the problems.
Structure of the Session: Use the first part of the study session to voice confusion or ask questions about the work that is to be discussed. Use the rest of the study session taking turns teaching the concepts and applications. A true test of how well you know something is how well you teach it. Studies show information is retained significantly more when a kinetic approach is also applied. Consider asking each member to come up with a rhyme, gesture or song to really drive the challenging concepts home.
When your middle or high school student shows interest in putting a study group together, or joining an existing one, share these tips and tricks with them to guarantee they get the most out of their study time.