While it can be difficult for college students to make the transition from the in-class and teacher-directed model of learning so common to high school classrooms to the more student-centered learning model of many college classes, Group Study Sessions can be a great way for students to get the most out of their study time while also building valuable social connections.  The rule of thumb is that for each hour a student spends in a college classroom they should plan on spending at least two hours dedicated to studying – which can include reading, writing, reviewing notes – and discussing course topics and concepts with fellow students.  Here are five great ideas to help group study sessions be more fun, and effective, not only for students with learning disabilities and learning differences, but for all college students:

  1.  Keep it Small, At Least At First

Plan on starting out with a study group of three to five students.  The goal is for the study group to be large enough to include other students who will add to the conversation, as well as those who might need some additional help, since teaching others is a great way to internalize concepts, as well.  This diverse group of study partners helps ensure that everyone is both teaching and learning.  Three to five students is a great size for a study group.

  1. Have a Plan 

Chances are, the course is covering a lot of topics and concepts, and it can be difficult to keep a study group on task.  One trick is to ask each member of the group to be prepared with at least one topic or question to review in the study session.  By sharing insights and perspectives, as well as responsibility for both asking and answering questions, all participants can add to the study environment.

  1. Timing is Everything

Make sure that all participants can attend the study time, and plan in a break or two, if you plan on a longer study session.  Do not try to cram in too much studying at the end of a term or just for the purpose of cramming for a test – the goal is to study and meet regularly, so that the study group does not devolve into an overwhelming, and unproductive, cramming session.

  1. Change Up Study Strategies

There are lots of study strategies which can be helpful in a group study session.  Open discussion, flashcards, making up possible test questions and the sharing answers, being responsible for re-teaching a concept to the group, or reviewing notes so that everyone has the same information to work from are all great ways to organize a group study session.

  1. Involve Food, and Make It Fun

Nothing brings college students together like food.  Encourage everyone to bring their favorite study snack, order a pizza together, or even mix a study night with a group dinner, where everyone brings a dish.  

Group projects and study groups can be a great way to get to know other students, build social connections, and broaden and deepen content mastery.  Getting into the habit of studying alone, and with others, can help students with learning differences draw on their strengths and get the most out of their college experience – both socially  and academically.  By connecting with others students can build not only new and effective study but also the lasting friendships which are so integral to a successful college experience.