On the first day of class I will make sure that everyone has had a chance to introduce themselves. I do this for several reasons. First, I believe that more class cohesiveness results when everyone has an idea of who else is sharing the room with them. Second, you may discover that there is someone in class who is your neighbor or your long lost friend from grade school – and this may be a potential friend. Third, you may discover someone with whom you can carpool. Fourth, and most important, you may discover others with whom you can study.
Studying together in an organized way with other students in your class is called a “study group.” Study groups, while organized, are not “formal.” They are not required; they are not governed by me or the college; they can be structured in a number of ways; they may or may not have a leader; and their membership usually changes during the course of the semester. They usually start when one person says to another something like, “Hey, do you want to meet in the cafeteria and go over some of the questions for the quiz?” There is no ideal size for the group, but usually somewhere from three to seven people will be involved. At first they may meet on campus, but they usually move to someone’s home. Study chores, such as creating flash cards, reproducing chapter outlines, or printing out test questions are usually divided up. Some sessions are dedicated to strategizing, while others are dedicated to studying together. Those in the group who have a better understanding of certain subjects will help to explain things in an understandable way for those who are having more trouble. Group members provide support and encouragement for each other. And, at the end of the semester, there may be a party!
I first read about this approach many years ago, but I was skeptical. Most students, quite frankly, are also skeptical – until they try it. In my experience, classes in which study groups have formed have ALWAYS achieved a higher average grade than classes that have NOT had such groups. AND, in the occasional semesters where two or more study groups have formed in the same class and have then started to compete with each other, the overall average grades have been phenomenally high. This really works.
If you see that a study group has formed in the class, don’t be shy about asking to join. If you are too shy to ask, or if the group tells you they are already “bonded,” try to start one of your own. Really you only need yourself and one other person and you’ve got a group!
If anyone wishes to consult me about this, please do. However, please be aware that I will not become actively involved in any one of the groups, attend any meetings, reserve meeting spaces, intervene in disputes between members, etc. Study groups are strictly a student enterprise.