Study Groups In-Person and Online


Study Groups offer students the opportunity for an in-depth discussion about course materials and provide an opportunity for students to think out loud and share insights. Learning is a different experience for each person. Students can hear different perspectives on a subject and therefore understand it from more than one position. This is useful in real-world settings where more than one solution or opinion bolsters creative and analytical thinking. The time for students to find out what they do not know is before a test or examination, not during it. This wiki article offers suggestions and resources for forming and hosting both in-person and remote study groups at Seattle Pacific University. 

Forming A Study Group

  1. Ask your classmates if they are interested in forming a group. Take a look around the classroom and figure out who you'd like to be in your group. Before class begins or just after it ends, ask people around you if they'd be interested in meeting up. Pay attention to your classmates' level of effort in the classroom to determine if they'd be a good member of the group. Too often, students join study groups with the hope that they can coast while the rest of the group does the work. If they are not pulling their weight in the classroom, they probably won't do their share in your group. An ideal study group is only about 4-5 members. Don't forget about your remote learning classmates. You don't want to miss out on a good team member just because they aren't in front of you. We will discuss options for meeting online. 
  2. Request that the professor make an announcement about your group. Ask the teacher to make an announcement at the beginning of class and also to post about it on your class's online message board, if available. A request from the teacher gives legitimacy to your request and you may have more luck recruiting group members this way. You can also ask the teacher if you can make the announcement yourself. This way, students know exactly who to see if they are interested in joining your group.
  3. Decide on meeting times that work with everyone's schedule. To have an effective study group, make sure you meet for at least an hour each week. Figure out a time that works for everyone each week and try to stick to it. This way, everyone will get into the habit of coming and won't forget. For a really difficult class, you may want to schedule 2 or 3-hour study sessions. Any longer than 3 hours and people may lose focus.
  4. Set up a chat group through messenger or social media. A really effective study group will be able to communicate outside the study sessions themselves. Set up a Study Team in Teams, WhatsApp, email, or text group that will allow people to ask questions, share documents, or plan extra study sessions. It's a good idea to set rules for the chat group as well. Sometimes people get carried away with messages or memes and drive away potentially great group members who do not want the extra distraction of constant phone alerts
  5. Set a topic schedule for each meeting in advance. At the first meeting, or even before if you can get everyone together, set a rough outline of topics you want to cover until the next exam. Use the course syllabus or your textbook to figure out what basic concepts you will cover each week. You don't need to make this schedule very detailed. It just helps the group to have an idea of what topics will be covered each week so everyone can plan ahead.
  6. Determine the rules and guidelines for the functionality of the group. The biggest problems when working in a group arise from miscommunication over roles and responsibilities. Before the group even begins to meet and study, set guidelines that everyone agrees to in order to keep things running smoothly and to avoid potential conflict. Make the rules as a group. To ensure that no one feels as though you are being bossy or trying to control the group, ensure that each group member is heard and their opinions on the rules are recognized. Each session, one or two group members should take the lead in planning the session and carrying out the individual tasks for that day. Having leaders to moderate the discussion and keep everyone on task will ensure that your group gets the maximum benefit from these meetings.
  7. Take breaks often so that no one feels burned out. If your study session is any longer than 45 minutes, you definitely want to schedule in breaks for stretching, using the restroom, checking your phone, or just chatting. Giving intermittent breaks keeps everyone on task when they should be working because they know there is a time coming when they can step away. The break schedule should be included in the agenda for the day. Decide together as a group what you think works best. Some people like to work for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes. Others prefer to work longer sessions and take longer breaks. It doesn't really matter as long as everyone agrees.

Where to Meet

Choose a venue that has bright lighting and a good collaborative space.  Once you know what time everyone can meet, you need to find an available space. Look for a space that has tables big enough for your group to gather around and spread out all their materials. Library study rooms, coffee shops, or group members' homes are great locations.  If you want to meet in someone's home, consider switching up the homes each week. This way, no one person feels burned out by hosting guests every week. The Ames Library  has study rooms that you can reserve. Just make sure you reserve an area where your group is free to talk and won't disturb others. Here is a link to Reserve A Library Study Room

Consider meeting online. With classes that take place in a classroom as well as online, remote students can form and join study groups. SPU provides students with Microsoft Office which includes Microsoft Teams. You can also meet via Zoom, messenger apps like Facebook messenger, What's App, or Google Hangouts, to name a few. Here is a video on How to use Microsoft Teams for student group projects. 

Online Meeting Apps Info

SPU provides access to two applications for online meetings, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. Follow the links below for more information on each and how to access them.

Microsoft Teams Through SPU Info

Zoom Through SPU Info

SPU is committed to your success. Therefore, The Center for Learning offers many resources to help you succeed: Tutoring, Academic Coaching, Workshops, Classes, and Disability Support Services. One such resource is Study Tables with Tutors. Study Tables are small group study sessions led by trained tutors. 

The Ames Library offers The Research, Reading, & Writing Studio.  The Research, Reading, & Writing Studio serves current students who are seeking to read, write, and research better.  They come alongside students at any stage of the writing process, offering strategies for how to move forward with their own projects. 

The Link Collection