Study Group Activities

  • Group members choose a predetermined amount of lecture notes. They individually identify the most important concepts. They then work with one or two others with the same material and refine their identified important concepts. Then write their list of concepts the board for the rest of the group. These lists can be used to generate a review sheet for the material.
  • Each group member identifies up to three items or topics from lecture notes or assigned reading that they do not understand or would like to understand better. These issues should be written on a whiteboard or paper for the group to organize and prioritize by importance. The group can then work to clarify these issues /questions as a group. These items/topics can be used as part of an exam review in the future.
  • The study groups works together to develop easy to remember mnemonic devices for processes or words in a list, such as the lines of a treble clef staff (every good boy does fine); or the phases of mitosis (pickled peppers make awful trumpets).
  • Group members pair off and review/compare their lecture notes from the past week. They then identify three or four of the most important concepts and attempt to summarize them in their own words. These concepts and summaries can later be used to help generate a review sheet.
  • Before the group meets, members generate lists of vocabulary words and/or key concepts from their notes or textbook. These should be words or short phrases, not complete sentences. When the study group meets, write these vocabulary words and concepts on the board and have each group member take turns explaining the terms or concepts to the rest of the group. This list can be used later to help the group determine what material is most important and what is less important in preparing for a test.
  • For concepts that can be compared and contrasted (such as types of mutations, different biochemical processes, historical events, etc.) each group member (alone or in small groups) reviews notes and identifies major topics from the material covered. Note any relationships among the topics—these are often good material for essay questions. Then the study group creates a chart by placing the major topics in the left column. In the header row, they either break down the major topics into analytical categories or provide applications, definitions, and examples.
  • For articles or non-textbook readings, group members can work in pairs to create summaries of the assigned readings then share their results with the group. The summaries should describe main ideas and concepts and not simply restate what was read.
  • Group members take turns drawing and explaining diagrams/processes/structures from class notes or readings. The diagrams/processes/structures can be assigned or group members can list them on scraps of paper and choose randomly.
  • Each group member draws a picture of a structure or a process on the board without using their notes or textbook. Then, other group members either label the drawing or write out the steps to the process without using their notes or textbook. Once information has been exhausted from the entire group, use notes and textbooks to complete the structure or process.
  • Before the group meets, the peer tutor identifies concepts, ideas, processes, formulas, etc. that will appear in lecture or in the textbook. During the study group, members review their notes and the peer tutor assigns each group member an item to illustrate and explain without the help of their notes. Then, other group members use their notes to correct, refine, or add to the illustrations or explanations.
  • If not prohibited by the course professor, group members compare answers to their homework and identify those they are uncertain about. Write the problems on a chalk/white board or in a document to be shared by the group. The entire group then discusses the problems and attempts to solve them. The SG+1 tutor can help by providing guidance on the proper steps for solving the problems.
  • Group members brainstorm to predict a given number of test questions each week. An assigned group member will keep a running list of questions for each chapter, lecture, or topic for the group to review or practice before a test or final exam.
  • Create your own exam review sheet. A group member divides course material among the group members and has them use the homework, notes, and/or readings to figure out what is most important (What should I be able to do? What should I be able to explain?) and then reports it back to the rest of the group. This can be assigned at the end of one session and shared at the beginning of the next study group.
  • Create your own practice test. In the study groups that takes place two weeks before a test, assign a chapter or lecture to each individual in the group. Each individual looks through his/her notes or section of the textbook to devise at least five challenging test questions for the next study group (the week of or before the exam). Ideally, the questions would resemble the types of questions (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, essay, etc.) and represent the range of question levels (knowledge, comprehension, application, evaluation, synthesis, etc.) you might encounter on the real test, so this may work best for the second exam. Each individual shares his/her questions with the group so everyone takes away a full set of questions. If time allows, you can start tackling the questions, preferably without the use of your notes to simulate the real test situation.
  • Use old or sample tests approved by the professor for additional practice problems. Assign each group member problems and give them time to work on them. Then, each group member or pair presents their answers to the group.
  • After a test has been returned, group members can make a list of difficult questions and analyze them to determine what made the questions difficult and how they could have better prepared to answer the question. Group members can discuss what they did to prepare for the exam, what worked and what did not, and how they might better prepare for the next test.