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What Happens When Students Study Together?

I’m a strong believer in the benefits of students studying together, even though students don’t always understand or even experience the benefits. Oftentimes the potential gains of group study sessions are compromised by student behaviors. Students will saunter into study sessions, mostly not on time, sit around, check their phones, and socialize. When they finally start reviewing their notes, the text, or the homework problems, it’s all pretty superficial. There are very few questions, explanations, or confessions of confusion. The most intense conversation takes place over what they’ve heard from others about the exam and their hopes that it will be easy.

If students studied more seriously, many (actually I think it’s most) of them would benefit enormously from study groups. Working with others provides a safe place to ask questions and admit confusion. Often it’s easier for students to understand each other than the teacher. When students figure out things on their own, that builds confidence. And when students explain things to each other, the student doing the explaining comes to a deeper understanding.

What students need when they study together is guidance. But who among us has time to organize and manage study groups? I’ve been trying to think of some efficient ways teachers can improve how students study together. Your help with the list of options would be appreciated.

Encourage collaboration

Activities students can do when they study together

Offer guidelines that make study sessions productive

Provide possible incentives

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