It’s almost the end of the academic year and the final exams are approaching. As you prepare for your exams do you wonder how you are going to understand and remember the volumes of material that you have to cover? When you sit and study alone at your desk at home,
do you struggle to grasp confusing concepts and to remember all the points in seemingly endless chapters? You have been studying on our own, waiting to go to school to ask your doubts. When you are in class, you may not necessarily have the time or the courage to ask the teacher to clarify your doubts. While this is how students have been managing their studies so far, it is probably time for us to look at an alternative method to ensure that you are thorough with your lessons.
Before we go any further I’d like to mention that the time spent working individually on a particular project or problem is central to its completion and studying individually is a very important part of your exam preparation.
Let’s see what a Russian teacher, Lev Vyogtsky (1962) had to say about learning. This brilliant psychologist said that children learn through social interactions with peers as well as with teachers and other adults. Think about it. A new born baby has the capacity to learn and remember elementary sounds of their language from their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy[i]. The process of learning starts even before we are born! We learn as we interact with our friends, parents, neighbors and teachers. In the early stages of our lives almost everything we learn involves social interaction.
So how can all this information help you with your isolated problems at the desk? That’s just it. You are not alone! There are other children like you struggling with the same concepts and problems while studying. What if you got together and studied? That’s what we call group study.
The advantages of learning in small groups:
- Get your doubts cleared: You have a question? No matter how simple or silly it sounds it’s always possible to speak up and share it with other students in your group. You’ll be surprised to see that others will have the same doubt as you. Someone in the group who knows the answer will explain it to the others. If there is no one who knows the answer, you get into a discussion where each person gives his best shot till you eventually come up with the answer. Alternatively you break the problem into parts and analyze each segment as a group to simplify it further and then brainstorm.
- Master the lesson: Did you know that when you explain a concept to another person, you master it yourself? As you teach your friend, you are doing several things. You mentally analyze the material you have already studied. You use simple language to make it easier for your friend to understand. Your friend keeps asking questions till he/she has understood the concept. While this is happening you are also doing a lot of listening. All this reinforces what you have already studied when you were alone and helps you retain the various points more successfully.
- Gain self-confidence: The process of speaking up in a small group and sharing your doubts, questions and explanations on your lessons helps you to see yourself in a new light. You become more confident, knowing that you are a person in your own right, capable of analyzing and solving problems with others.
Other benefits you derive from group study:
- You develop the ability to listen to other people and see things from their perspective
- Your communication and social skills improve
- Your regular study routine gets a nice perk
- You form friendships which are sometimes long-lasting with peers in your group
The benefits of studying in small groups are further enhanced if conducted in a planned manner with a tutor who assigns projects or guides you through an organized process. This ensures that you save time and that these sessions are focused on the particular lessons you should be targeting.
Even for students who find themselves effective when studying alone, it is a good idea to join a study group to explore the benefits they can draw from this experience.
So… are you ready to start a club?