Campus News

The Benefits of Study Groups

By Danielle Pride

Note: this article was written before the pandemic started and school got switched to online. However, you can still do study groups through Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime! Don’t let the benefits of study groups stop just because we’re online!

SOUTH PORTLAND – With finals coming up, tensions are high and stress is even higher on the campuses of Southern Maine Community College. Students are staying up late to study, catching up on late work, and trying to keep afloat throughout it all in addition to their personal lives. 

This is when study groups often come to the rescue. Students like to congregate in the learning commons or in the campus center to work together to make it through finals weeks. However, is there truly a benefit to study groups?

“It [study groups] helps to provide a more comprehensive body of information,”said Holly Gurney, Associate Dean of Academics and Director of the Learning commons at Southern Maine Community College. “Because what a person misses, another person in the study group might have gotten.”

According to Meghan Hardison, Learning Commons Outreach and Instructional and Digital Integration Librarian at Southern Maine Community College, students are expected to form their own study groups and gain social skills and confidence when forming them. “It is facilitated and formed by the students,” she said, “Students are certainly welcome to come to us and ask us for advice. If we notice that a person is looking for a study buddy, we casually bring it up to them, but we don’t formally structure or oversee anything. But we do offer advice as needed. We offer space we love to have bigger groups come in.”

But other students prefer to study on their own. Some students cannot focus on their homework when there are other people around. There are different study styles for each student and sometimes they need their own personal space to work without distraction. Some students need complete silence, while others need noise. Samantha DiMauro, a first year student at Southern Maine Community College with an undeclared major is one of those people who need quiet. “Personally, I just can’t do homework when other people are around,” she said. 

Although there are no specific studies proving the benefits of study groups at SMCC, both Hardison and Gurney claim that, anecdotally, they see an improvement in students’ grades.

According to the University of Southern Maine’s website, there are 5 tips to forming a strong and educational study group. The first thing to do is obviously forming the group. USM suggests a group of 3 to 7 would work well, especially considering the various students’ school and work schedules, while also being able to teach each other the content. 

The second thing to do is to pick a time. Preferably pick a time that works for everybody who wants to be involved in the group. Also make sure that the time frame is long enough to get work done, but also not too long to burn yourself out. 

The third thing to do is to choose a location. This location can be reserved in the Learning Commons, or students usually meet at someplace more open, such as Books-A-Million or Starbucks. 

The fourth thing to do is assign tasks. This involves each group member being responsible for specific content or concepts, and coming to the session prepared to explain it to the other members of the group. This not only helps the student to understand the topic, but also helps the rest of the students in the group so they don’t have to stress about reading it all in one night. This fourth step leads back to something that Gurney said. “Most people don’t really learn things until they talk it through,” she said. “Group study allows you that opportunity to both read, study, and speak. It tends to be a very effective memory strategy. If you can talk about it and explain it, you know it.”

The final thing, according to USM, is to teach the concepts. Make sure each group member participates equally and takes turns teaching each other the content they prepared and asking questions. 

As this finals season approaches, don’t be afraid to join a study group if it compliments your learning style. It could end up being more beneficial than you may think for both you and your fellow students in class. If you don’t know where to start, it may be helpful to give the Learning Commons a visit and see if Holly Gurney or Meghan Hardison knows of anybody asking similar questions about the same class. You may gain a new study buddy out of it. 

Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 3.10.03 PM

Photo Credit- Danielle Pride at SMCC—  The campus center early on a Friday morning, before the rush of students studying for their last finals.

Categories: Campus News

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