Looking at benefits of group studying
With final exams just next week, many students will spend the next several days reviewing a whole quarter’s worth of notes and assignments — but studying so much material in such a short amount of time can be a daunting thought. What are some of the most effective methods to prepare for this five-day period of testing? According to many students, it helps to find a study group.
Phi Sigma Pi, a national co-ed honors fraternity, provides group studying opportunities for its members, aligning with the fraternity’s mission to promote both academics and community.
“We have a tripod of scholarship, fellowship and leadership, and everything we do centers around this tripod,” said Ricky Nguyen, a fifth-year psychology and communication double major and president of Phi Sigma Pi. “We have study sessions to make sure that besides fraternity work, our members have the opportunity to sit down and actually study.”
About once a week, Phi Sigma Pi hosts library hours in which both initiates and fraternity members meet at Shields Library to study as a group. Each mandatory study session lasts from two to three hours, and allows members to connect with one another while also completing schoolwork.
“The purpose of [library hours] is to [let] the initiates have the time one day a week to catch up with their work,” said Inge Chandra, a fourth-year chemistry major and initiate advisor of Phi Sigma Pi. “At the same time, brothers come […] to get to know the initiates better, [and] also to have a study space where they don’t have to study alone.”
Having the opportunity to casually converse with other students during group sessions can actually be beneficial to the study process, serving as a way to relax the mind and take short breaks between long periods of hard work.
“The social aspect helps you study, helps with your cognitive processes and helps take your mind off stress,” Nguyen said. “[During library hours], after half an hour or 45 minutes [of studying] and you feel fatigued, you can chat with your brothers. It’s something to take your mind off of studies, and you can’t do that in your room studying alone. You can come back to studying afterwards, and it’s very effective.”
Moreover, a study group can provide a productive environment that encourages students to stay focused on their schoolwork.
“I like to surround myself with other people studying,” Chandra said. “If I see them studying and I’m not doing anything, I [think], ‘They’re not going to talk to me; might as well study right now.’ Even if we’re studying for different things, having other people there in general can motivate you.”
The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) also provides group studying opportunities through its tutoring programs. The SASC includes three departments: the main center in South Hall, the Transfer, Re-entry and Veterans Center in Dutton Hall and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at the EOP Cottage.
In South Hall, the SASC offers drop-in tutoring in various subjects, including chemistry, business and math. During these sessions, students can work together as a group along with a tutor, which some tutors view as an effective learning strategy.
“I think it’s helpful on an emotional standpoint because if you feel you’re alone in the class struggling, it can be really discouraging,” said Lindsey Phillips, a second-year psychology major and calculus tutor. “If you come in here and [think], ‘these people are stuck on the same problems as me [and] I’m not alone in this,’ and then you try and solve it together, you’re way more inclined to want to succeed than to just give up on your homework.”
Students attending the same tutoring sessions can also explain and clarify concepts for one another.
“When we are working with multiple students on the same problem, if one student starts to get it, they can see where the other students are starting to struggle and explain it to them,” said Tristan Bond, a third-year mechanical engineering major and calculus tutor. “It’s great to have somebody who is on the same level seeing where their peers are struggling that maybe I, as a tutor, can’t always see for every student.”
Although studying in groups often proves to be beneficial, it is not always the best method. Some students prefer individual studying, with a quieter environment that allows better concentration. Students should experience both to determine what works best for them.
“My perspective as a student is different from my perspective as a tutor,” said Laurel Koch, a third-year genetics and genomics major and calculus tutor. “I like to study by myself because usually the problem for me isn’t getting the information, it’s mastering it, and when I’m by myself I can really focus on where my flaws are. I’m in BIS 103 and it’s a lot of memorization — studying groups [are] not going to help you there.”
Students can learn about other effective study habits and strategies in the SASC’s study skills workshops, which are also offered at its South Hall location.
“There [are workshops for] time management, success strategies, how to actively read, how to manage test anxiety, how to take tests and things like that,” said Sarah Mayorga, a second-year political science major and receptionist at SASC in South Hall. “When students go to the workshops, for first-years, it really eases them into the college transition. And even for students who have been here for a little while and are still trying to figure out how to take notes or how to take tests properly, it makes them more confident in their schoolwork.”
Finals week can be one of the busiest times of the quarter, and students will use a wide variety of study techniques over the next few days to prepare for their exams. Whether studying in groups or individually, re-reading textbooks or completing practice problems, techniques vary from student to student. For some students, group studying will be an efficient technique, not only providing company and support during a stressful time of the year, but also positively influencing academic performance.
“[Some] feel that joining organizations, […] fraternities or social groups takes time off studying,” Nguyen said. “I would say that is not true. My fraternity helps me study more than I could ever have [if I were] by myself.”
Written by: Jennie Chang — firstname.lastname@example.org