Successful Online Study Groups during COVID-19

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Quote the Raven: Theodora
Major in Law and Political Science, Minors in Human Rights and Spanish

Theodora

Online classes have their challenges and now that we’re in the middle of mid-terms and getting closer and closer to finals many of us are now forced to devise new study strategies. We can no longer hole ourselves up in a room in the library, invite a few friends, get some thin crust Domino’s pizza and study till all the slides of the term finally make sense wondering why we didn’t ‘get it’ before. It’s strange when you get that eureka moment and everything finally clicks, like the past four months of learning about Plato’s weird obsession with caves and forms finally connects with the science major you’re taking. These moments can feel like they are getting further and further in-between especially if you are like me and rarely ever get there when you’re studying by yourself.

This is because according to the Learning Pyramid, which is a chart that compares knowledge retention with methods of studying, teaching others and discussion groups rank first and third in knowledge retention, earning 90% and 50% retention rates respectively. Meaning those nights you spend holed up in the library discussing topics and helping each other out helps you retain 18x more knowledge than simply attending lectures, and more times than not they are way more fun. And just because we can’t physically be next to each other doesn’t mean we can’t create fun engaging study groups. So, for this Quote the Raven in an attempt to help you out and bring back a little more normalcy during midterm and exam season, here are my tips and tricks for successful online study groups during COVID-19.

Establishing a Group

An effective study group is comprised of 3-4 members, if you include more people you run the risk of meetings being too crowded and not everyone will be engaged and participate. You may be asking yourself now “I have not met or talked to like 90% of my class, how can I get a group together?”. Well, this is not as difficult as it may seem, you could put in the chat of your lectures (if your professor allows it) that you are putting a study group together and get people’s contact info from there. You could also post about your meetings in discussion groups on cuLearn, or simply make a post on Instagram. If you are determined to make it happen and you are willing to put yourself out there you will find like-minded study partners.

Hosting a Study Group

Within your group decide which app or platform works best for everyone, whether it be through Zoom, Discord, Microsoft Teams or any other platform. Keep in mind that Microsoft Teams as well as the entire Microsoft suite is free for Carleton students. Once the platform is decided figure out all other logistical items like what days are you meeting, what time are you meeting and figure out ways to contact each other in case you need to discuss something outside of meetings. As a host it is a good idea to have and discuss with you group a loose idea of goals you want to achieve with each meeting, this could be as simple as how many pages you want to review that day. Personally, I find it easiest to divide lecture slides up between group members and have one person be ‘in charge’ of facilitating the discussion on that specific topic.

When in Study Groups

It is important to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to speak at each meet-up. Online learning isn’t natural for everyone, and some students find it more difficult than traditional classes. On top of that, the global pandemic may cause extra stress, fatigue, or anxiety. Try to regularly check-in with your group to see if anyone needs support. Always remember there is a person behind the words you read on screen. Be kind, use people’s preferred names (being mindful of spelling and pronunciation), try not to assume what pronouns they use, communicate politely, and talk over video when you can. Seeing faces goes a long way toward keeping everyone engaged and connected.

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