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Students of all courses can benefit from a study group
Study groups can be a great way to learn, collaborate, share notes,
revise, cram for exams, solve problems and improve team-working
skills, which is good practice for the workplace.
However, a poorly run study group can be a waste of time, which is
why it's important to follow a few simple rules.
Try to make sure your group is made up of people who are as
enthusiastic as you are, who turn up to lectures and who take notes.
Limit the size of the group to between four and six people and set
ground rules early.
Make sure you all agree on the structure. For example, when and where
you meet, and the agenda should be decided in advance. Choose one
person each time to lead the group (this is a great way to learn the
skill of chairing a meeting).
You might choose a tough problem to work through – one where group
knowledge will help solve it faster – or you could discuss possible
exam questions to benefit from the group's shared knowledge. Use the
study group to test each other by asking people to explain key
concepts in their own words.
Students of all courses can benefit from a study group, but it's
especially useful for subjects with complex theories, like engineering
or government administration, as well as subjects where discussing
different approaches can really enhance your knowledge base, like
youth work or hospitality.
Make sure everybody comes prepared with notes, textbooks and ideas at
the ready, and work hard to ensure everybody gets to contribute. It's
easy for one person to dominate group activities, so have a rule that
everybody has to contribute at least once during the session.
People have different learning styles and might need time to process
their thoughts before discussing them, so it's a good idea to reserve
time for working in pairs as well as five minutes of solo work.
Playing to everyone's strengths will help ensure that each student
benefits in the long run.
Finally, if you find there's an imbalance in the group – for example,
if you're the one always sharing your notes or teaching the others, or
if you find that the group doesn't get much done – don't drag your
feet about leaving it. Your time is precious, after all.
If you're looking to join or start a study group, your TAFE NSW
lecturers may be able to put you in touch with other like-minded
students. Similarly, the student
association at your campus may be able to help.