Key Componets of Productive Study Group Sessions

Set Study Agenda: Each participant suggest topics to review, practice or clarify

Allow Time To Vent: Take a few minutes, if needed, at the start of the session to vent frustrations, stress, etc. But put a cap on this; complaining about your classes won’t help you learn the material better!

Review Material: Based on the study agenda, compare notes from lectures and readings, filling in any gaps you may find.

Take Turns Teaching:

  • Demonstrate a skill or concept using a whiteboard (or piece of paper)
  • Draw a concept map, or write key points of topic. Explain each item.
  • Explain a concept, allowing others to ask questions as you go.

Generate Questions And Take Turns Answering Them:

  • Create higher-level thinking questions that require you to apply skills, analyze a situation, synthesize concepts.
  • For essay exams, anticipate possible questions and together, create an outline for an essay.
  • Quiz each other on basic recall facts, such as vocabulary, dates, formulas.

General Group Guidelines

Forming a Group: Send an email to class listserv, or ask professor to help facilitate forming groups, or ask a student you’ve observed in class who you think might be a good match. Consider limiting the size of your group to no more than five people.

Seek Study Partners Who Are Committed To Learn: You don’t need to be at the same skill level, but all members must be committed to help each other learn. Think critically when considering working with a friend; are you certain you can stay focused and productive?

Meet Regularly: While meeting once or twice before an exam will certainly help, starting early in the semester and working consistently together will make a big difference in mastering course content.

Work as a Team: The best groups are collaborative, not competitive. Agree to not judge each other’s skill level. Agree that all questions are accepted.

Come Prepared to Teach and Learn: You must actively participate in order to benefit both yourself and the group. This means you attend class and keep up with the readings and assignments.

  • Study groups are not the place for substantial remediation. If you need this, consider tutoring or attending instructor’s office hours.

Download PDF: Working with Study Partners

REMEMBER: The UNC Learning Center is a great resource! Both Peer Tutoring and Academic Coaching can help you create a balanced approach to succeeding at Carolina. Our friendly staff is ready to help – drop by or make an appointment!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.