It is believed that students learn by doing. As opposed to being spoon-fed knowledge in lecture, study groups encourage students to go above and beyond what is being taught and to develop their own understanding of subject material. The goal of study group learning is to help students take ownership of course material; to learn to learn.
As you can see from this list, being in a study group can be really helpful. BUT these benefits come only to those who are serious about making their group work well together and serious about learning. So, although I expect you to have fun (eh, there is no reason why you can't have a study group meeting at a pub once in a while) the study group component of your course is serious stuff.
Are you interested in joining a group but don't know how to start? Talk to your classmates or instructor.
We hope that, 10 years from now, you will look back upon this first meeting of your study group with good sentiments. We realize that not all of you will form those "college-days" relationships that TV glamorizes, but some of you will. You just never know what might happen. Here are some things that will help get started on the right track:
Check off this list as you go.
Below is a list of things you should/can do at your meetings. Suggestions in bold I would recommend you do at every meeting.
This page contains a section called Problems and Solutions. It's a good idea to read it so you know what can happen and so that you can recognize it when a problem arises. A lot of the problems can be prevented if you work hard not just at the math, but at making your group work. Below is a list of guidelines that, when followed, help to avoid the common pitfalls.
There are some problem situations in which a study group might find itself. Occasionally a group just doesn't have any interaction among its members. More frequent is the problem of one student is doing all the work, either because no one else will or because he or she doesn't trust the other group members to do a good job. These problems undermine the whole idea behind study groups and are actually detrimental to learning. Not to over-dramatize this but: BE AWARE!!! Just knowing about what can happen helps to prevent or nip in the bud serious problems.
The following list is offered to increase your awareness of potential problems as well as to offer advice on how to deal with them. We cannot stress enough how important it is to discuss your problems in your group. This is why it is so important to establish an open working environment in which you can be objective about how things are going in your group and comfortable enough to point out problems.
Problem: Lack of interaction
Possible Cause: Lack of Experience with Learning in Study Groups
Possible Cause: You Feel Coerced to Participate
Possible Cause: Physical Arrangement
Problem: Group members are participating unequally
Possible cause: Intolerance of Silence
Some people feel a strong need to fill in moments of silence with speech. In the same way that nature abhors a vacuum, some people abhor silence in conversations.
Possible Cause: Dominant Speakers Monopolize the Discussion.
Possible Cause: A Group Member Has No Interest in Speaking.
Some students feel that they learn better by listening than by talking. Others feel that speaking and helping others requires too much effort.
Problem: A Group Member is Doing All the Work
Possible Cause: Lack of Trust between Members to Work
Possible Cause: The Rest of Your Group is Slacking Off.
Possible Cause: A Group Member is the Brightest Student In the Group.
Problem: A Group Member is Being Uncooperative.
Problem: Reinforcing Misconception
It is quite easy for a group of students to mistakenly agree, for example, that when they get zero over zero they can cancel to get one. Or to misread what it means for a function to be continuous. Or to confuse "if" with "only if." Who will be around to point out these errors?