Effective Groupwork

Form an effective study group. Image credit: Katie Kirkland, design strategist, katikirk@uw.edu

Study groups can be one of the most effective ways to engage with course material. It's also easy to get distracted when working in groups. Here are some tips for keeping your group on track!

1. Find a "right size" group.

Having too many people working together can be difficult to manage and keep everyone on track. Often, finding a group with 3-4 members works well for students.

2. Set an agenda for your time together.

Working through homework, studying a specific topic, or comparing class notes are all useful ways to use group time. You can keep the group on track by making sure everyone knows the purpose of the meeting.

Here is a sample agenda for a ~ 1 hour session to work on a homework assignment together:

  • 1-3 minutes: Set or discuss the goal for the session
  • 15 minutes: Work independently on the goal
  • 15-20 minutes: Group study time
  • 15-20 minutes: Independent work time
  • 10 minutes: Assess what you know (together)
  • 5-10 minutes: Review & Set goals for the next meeting

3. Set deadlines for assignments.

Group members can hold each other accountable for work between meetings. Setting a deadline for all members of your group to work through particular practice problems before you meet again or having shared goals for when to accomplish reading assignments can make it easier to motivate yourself to get these tasks completed!

4. Complete tasks before each meeting.

Taking the time to prepare for the meeting can keep the time together more focused and efficient. If your group has a goal to get through a certain set of homework questions, reading the questions ahead of time and collecting the right tools and materials before your meeting will make the study group more effective for everyone.

Information in the Catalyze Your Success program has been adapted from learning strategies presented by the Louisiana State University Center for Academic Success and the book "Teach Students How to Learn" by Saundra Yancy McGuire, Stylus Publishing (2021).