Study Group +1

Five students sitting around a table talking and laughing

Study Group +1 is an effective way to help CWRU students diversify and maximize their study time. This program is designed to enhance the learning experience for undergraduate students. Students can strengthen their understanding through discussion of course content in a peer tutor-supported study group of no more than five students. Study Group +1 can help students prepare for lecture, class discussion, a quiz or exam, or to work through a challenging homework assignment. 

Benefits of Study Group +1

  • Share strengths and strengthen weaknesses. 
  • Accomplish more by collective problem solving.
  • Refine and improve class notes and note-taking skills.
  • Diversify your study routine.
  • Acquire new skills by interacting with your fellow students.

When you're ready to form your study group, complete and submit the online form to get started.

Forming a Group

Before forming a Study Group +1, students must first consider the following:

  • How many students should be in the group? Four or five tends to be the right number because smaller groups are susceptible to distraction and larger groups make it more difficult to ensure that members are doing their fair share of work. 
  • Who should be in the group? Friends are not always the best choice for a study group unless they aspire to the same level of academic success in the course. Group membership should include students who attend and pay attention in class and who generally have good academic habits.
  • Where should group sessions be held? Study Groups +1 should meet in a location free from distractions and where there is ample room to interact. Residence halls or other limited-access spaces are not recommended.
  • How long should a study group meet? No more than two hours. Members may lose focus in a longer session and may not have enough time to meet their objectives if a session is too short.
  • When should study groups meet? Meeting at the same time and place each week is best. Having a set schedule allows members to plan ahead and prepare for each session.

Once your group has formed and settled on a meeting time and place, a member of the group needs to submit a request for a peer tutor using the online Study Group +1 Tutor Request form. The request must include the name and CWRU ID of each member of the group. In some cases, the assigned tutor is not a good match for the group. If your study group finds that your tutor is not helpful or unable to meet the needs of the group, contact Jennifer DeSantis, assistant director for Academic Resources, and a different tutor can be assigned to the group. 

Study Group Guidelines

General Study Sessions

  • Group members choose a predetermined amount of lecture notes. They individually identify the most important concepts. They they work with one or two others with the same material and refine their identified important concepts. Each member writes a list of the concepts on a board for the rest of the group to view. 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 group works to together to develop easy-to-remember mnemonic devices for processes or words in a list.
  • 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 because these observations often make 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 instead of simply restating 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 members 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 notes. Other group members then use their notes to correct, refine or add to the illustrations or explanations.

Homework Activities

If not prohibited by the course professor, group members compare answers to their homework and identify those areas where they are uncertain. White the problems on a board or in a document to be shared with the group. The entire group then discusses the problems and attempts to solve them. The Study Group +1 tutor can help by providing guidance on the proper steps for solving the problems.

Test or Exam Preparation Activities

  • 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 and then reports back to the rest of the study 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 group 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 session (the week 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 that everyone takes away a full set of questions. If time allows, you can start tackling the questions, preferably without the use of 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. Each group member or pair then 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 answered 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.