Study groups

This page offers help and advice on learning more about your own approach to group work.

We recommend that you read the sections in order, but you are of course also welcome to choose the specific section that is most relevant for you.

Study groups and group collaboration

At the Student Counsellors' Office, we often meet students who contact us because they find group work challenging and would like some tools to help them work well and professionally with others. These may be students who:

  • think their group collaboration is not working optimally
  • are not part of a study group but would like to be
  • do not want to be part of a study group because they study better by themselves

On this page, you will find some exercises to help you identify your needs for group collaboration and how you can get the most out of it.

Why be part of a study group?

Students get the most out of their studies in different ways. As student counsellors, we always encourage students to be part of an academic community, such as a study group, since this can be both academically and socially beneficial. We see that many students enjoy their university life more when they can share experiences, discuss academic issues, and have a place to raise their questions and doubts.

Study groups can supplement teaching by offering students the chance to:

  • practise important presentations and exams
  • discuss/summarise important topics in the course material
  • complete assignments and exercises with others
  • give and receive peer feedback

Being part of a study group can also help you to not feel alone in your university work. Many students also become really good friends with the others in their study group and meet up socially – not only to study and complete assignments.

If you would rather not be part of a study group because you work better on your own, that is also okay. In the next section, we have posed some questions you might like to reflect on depending on whether you are or are not part of a study group.

"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.

Would you like to be part of a study group?

If you are in a study group, it could be good to consider the following questions:

  • What do you want to use a study group for?
  • How do you use your study group?
  • What role do you most often take in a group context?
  • What works well for you?
  • What would you like to work better?
  • When does the group collaboration work?
  • How do you meet?
  • Where do you meet?
  • How often do you meet?
  • Do you use an agenda?
  • How do you facilitate your meetings?
  • What kind of contract have you entered into with each other? If you haven’t, take a look at the 'Checklist for organising study group meetings' at AU Studypedia


By answering these questions, you can become more aware of why you want to be in a study group; you can get more from your study group, and you can become more conscious of group dynamics and what they can and cannot achieve.

In group work, people often take on different roles. Some are talkative and outgoing, while others are quieter and more contemplative. Some are good at being create, while others are better at gathering academic knowledge. Some take on a managerial role, while others take on a secretarial role. It is therefore important that you are aware of your own role in the group and that you thrive in the role you have. Remember that diversity is your strength.

You can find inspiration, good advice and digital collaboration tools for your study groups on Studypedia.



Would you like to work alone?

For some students, it works better not to be in a study group. There may be several reasons for this:

  • I study best alone
  • I prioritise my time for other things that are more important to me, such as work and family.
  • I meet with my fellow students in other forums, where discussions about academic issues and assignments take place more informally.

If you are not sure whether or not a study group is for you, it could be a good idea to make an overview of the pros and cons of joining one:

Being part of a study group - prosBeing part of a study group - cons

Studying alone - prosStudying alone - cons


You may also benefit from asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I get from studying alone?
  • What does not work for me when I study as part of a group?
  • What could I potentially get out of being part of a study group?
  • How can I find a good study group for me?
  • How can I make sure I do not feel lonely in my student life?
  • If part of a compulsory study group or exam group: What contribution do I need to make in order to get the most out of the group work? What do the members of the group expect of each other?

Learn more about collaboration

You can find inspiration and exercises for good professional collaboration on AU Studypedia.