When you practice and teach others course material, it is easier to remember the information and recall it later on.
You’ve likely heard that study groups are a good idea, but do you know why they are? There are a few keys to making study groups productive and efficient (and not just another outlet of your precious minutes).
The Learning Pyramid
First, familiarize yourself with the learning pyramid, a diagram indicating how much information you can retain using different methods.
- Lecture alone leads to the least retention
- Demonstration still has you retaining less than half of the material
- Practice by Doing and Teach Others help you retain the most knowledge and enable you to apply it to tests, assignments, and group discussions
Students who engage frequently with course material throughout the term are more likely to do better in future courses. Here's why:
- There’s more time to process information and commit it to long-term memory
- Courses continue to build on this foundation of knowledge
- The more you know now, the less you'll have to review in the future
- Students who study 1–3 weeks right before final exams are more likely to forget, shortly after the exam, what they’ve learned
UBC Science students have told us that study groups are the number one thing that helped them do better in their courses. Here’s how you can make the most out of study time while taking advantage of the online platforms you’re already used to.
Steps to Establish a New Study Group
Point them to the learning pyramid to help them understand how it might be helpful. An effective study group consists of 3 or 4 members (no more than 5).
Ask your instructor if it would be possible for them to send out an email to connect interested students. Alternatively, set up a group on social media for your classmates to join. Many courses also offer discussion boards, whether on Canvas or Piazza. You can message any classmate you think might be interested as well!
- Your goals and motivations for being in a study group
- Your learning preferences
- Preferred frequencies of meet-ups during the term (e.g. once per week, twice per week)
- Meet-up times that would work schedule-wise (e.g. Tuesdays 12–1 pm, Wednesay 7–8 pm)—consider using Doodle to identify possible times
- Preferred modes of communication outside of meet-up times (e.g. Messenger, Microsoft Teams, or text)
Review your responses together and finalize what works best for the group.
- How meet-ups will be arranged (e.g. is someone in charge of scheduling them?)
- Expectations such as attendance and preparations
- Possible actions to take should someone be unable to meet the expectations (e.g. a reminder is given to a member who does not come prepared, then, should it happen again, they are no longer a member)
- Systems for evenly dividing the weekly lectures among group members so everyone gets to contribute—each subgroup (aka lecture summarizers) summarizes key concepts and creates a one-page summary in advance of the subsequent meet-up
When Hosting the Study Group...
Now that you know how to organize study groups, it’s time to form one and get a leg up in those courses!
Partially adapted from National Training Laboratories. Bethel, Maine & https://keeplearning.ubc.ca/