Study groups

Work with others – why?

Being part of a study group is a great advantage, both academically and socially, and you may find that your learning experience improves when you share your experiences, questions and doubts with the group.

Study groups supplement teaching by:

  • Summing up important points from the material and putting them into perspective
  • Working on important assignments and exercises
  • Practicing before important presentations and exams

A study group may also give you a sense of obligation towards your fellow students and provide a setting that promotes learning, for example by ensuring that you study throughout the semester and learn the syllabus.

There can also be a number of challenges associated with working together in a study group. On this website, we have gathered a lot of inspiration for you. Have a look around at the videos and exercises. The most important thing is that you try different things in order to find out what works best for you in a group context.

"To make a study group work it is important to be honest with each other, and to make sure everybody wants to be there", Ida Marie Faurholdt, student at Public Health Science.

Make a group contract

In order to get the most out of the cooperation in your study group, it’s a good idea to agree on the framework and balance the expectations in the group. This applies regardless of whether you have been placed in a group or chosen to form a study group with your best friends. Therefore, before you begin working with your study group, it is a good idea to complete a contract in which you go through and discuss how you will handle the following:

  • Round of introduction
  • Balancing expectations
  • Communication in the group
  • Absence/cancellations
  • Conflict resolution
  • Evaluation/follow-up 

Complete this group contract.

Make use of digital group tools

It may be beneficial to use digital meeting tools for your study group meetings. For example when you need to agree on meeting dates or when you need to share written material:

  • Doodle – calendar planning tool that quickly allows you to determine a date for your meeting
  • Dropbox – tool for saving and synchronising files online. Save your files in Dropbox and share them with your group 
  • Google Docs – create, edit and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and presentations online
  • Facebook – create a group where you can share experiences
  • Skype and FaceTime – use video calls if one of you cannot be present at the meeting    

 

 

 

 

Facilitate your meetings

Determine how often you will meet: Do you have fixed times for your meetings, or do you schedule your meetings from one meeting to the next? You may want to select someone to be the meeting organiser. 

Determine a meeting place: Consider where you can sit and not be disturbed – you may want to book a room at the university, or is it better if you meet at someone from the group’s home?

Select a chairperson/facilitator: You may want to take turns being chairperson/facilitator so that the role and the responsibility do not fall on the same person(s) every time.

Make an agenda: You may want to make an agenda together for each meeting or delegate this task to the chairperson/facilitator.  

The meeting organiser starts the meeting on time and indicates that the meeting has begun.

The facilitator’s tasks:

- The facilitator initiates the meeting by going through and making sure that everyone agrees on the agenda. The facilitator states how much time is allocated for each item on the agenda as well as an expected end time for the meeting.

- Are there any action points from the previous meeting that need to be followed up on?

- Presentation of the item on the agenda, including a specification of the purpose of the item/topic.

The facilitator makes sure that the group stays focused on the topic and may divide each item on the agenda into 3 phases:

1. Consultation: In this phase, the meeting participants provide input for the item on the agenda, and everyone listens to each other’s ideas, views and experiences. This could include a brainstorming session. The facilitator ensures that everyone has time to speak. In order to keep track of the group’s input, the facilitator may want to use a blackboard, a flip chart, or something similar.

2. Evaluation: In this phase, the group discusses and argues for and against, based on the input from the consultation phase. The facilitator may initiate this phase by letting the participants at the meeting discuss the input in pairs or letting the group reflect silently – with the possibility of noting down their thoughts. In the evaluation phase, it is important that the facilitator ensures that the group stays focused and only discusses one thing at a time.

3. Decision: The facilitator follows up on the discussion, proposes conclusions, and ensures that the purpose of the item has been accomplished. One or more people are appointed to be responsible for any actions that need to be taken.

Closing the meeting: The facilitator sums up the most important conclusions from the meeting. If relevant, the next meeting is scheduled and the meeting is closed.  

The above is based on Ib Ravn’s article "Bedre møder gennem facilitering" on how to facilitate better meetings, which also includes helpful suggestions for the role of the facilitator.

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