• Study Groups

    Ever since Massey began offering extramural courses, students have found benefit in linking up with other students in their region, taking the same courses.  So how do you find out who else is studying your subject(s)?

    • Phone/email your local EXMSS area representative contact details on the EXMSS web site
    • Free phone (0508 439677) or email info@exmss.org.nz the EXMSS Office
    • Phone/Email your course coordinator ( contact details in your administration guide ).

    These people will give you the names and contact details of the students taking your course(s) in your area. You may choose to contact these students and ask if they want to form a study group with you.  Research shows that distance students throughout the world have consistently found study groups really useful, particularly in breaking down the isolation factors and creating a forum for discussion. Study groups become similar to the tutorial groups that internal students typically enjoy.

    Study is the operative word, and the group must be used primarily for the purpose. (Note, however, that you still need to do your own private study even if you belong to a study group).

    While the study group may also be used for other functions.

    e.g.    –       social meeting, chatting

    -       discussing personal problems

    -       providing support for each other

    These should be considered as secondary functions.

    The main function is for ACTIVE STUDY to be carried out during the group meetings.

    How To Do This

    1. Meet at a place where it is possible to study.

    2. Prepare for each meeting.

    • Read relevant notes, sections of textbooks and/or study guides, etc. Attempt to solve problems and/or answer questions given in the study guides / texts (so you know what you can /cannot do).
    • Consider your own thoughts on the -study material so that you can contribute these during the next meeting and participate in discussions. The worst case scenario is where one or two people do all the talking and the rest contribute nothing during the meetings.

    3. Set specific times to meet (e.g. once a fortnight, once a week. etc.) Be prompt in arriving at these meetings. It is a waste of time to wait for people who say they are coming or may be coming but arrive an hour late or not at all!

    4. Have specific study tasks planned. At the end of every meeting, sort out the study tasks for the following meeting, You want to avoid the situation where everyone says “Well, what shall we do now?” “Shall we do this or do that?” Then everyone oscillates from one task to another and ends up doing nothing of value.

    5. Get straight down to doing the study tasks planned.  Leave the social chatting, etc until you have completed the study tasks (you could use chatting etc then, as rewards for your efforts). So for example: study for an hour, have a 10 minute break, study for another hour, then – if you’ve had enough of studying – chat, gossip, etc.

    6. Have someone in charge of each meeting to make sure that useful study actually gets done. This responsibility could be circulated among the members of the group.

    Specific Study Activities To Do In Groups.

    1. Discussion

    Discuss the main and important points of the course that you have learnt since the last meeting. This should give group members the opportunity not only to practice expressing what they have learnt, but also to pick up points they may have missed. Discuss also difficulties or problems encountered with the work, and try to help each other with these- If as a group you cannot solve a problem, clarify what the problem is exactly and seek help from your tutors, course controllers, lecturers, or other people who may be able to assist.

    2.      Recitation

    Recite the definitions of key terms and explanations of important concepts and ideas learnt. Pool your ideas and knowledge on the topics being covered. Think of examples, illustrations, applications, and ways of relating the new material to previously learned material in the course. Take notes when it is necessary and useful.

    3. Testing

    Test each other on Information learnt in the course. You could, for example, test each other, on your abilities to:

    • define key terms
    • recall important formulas
    • solve problems
    • clearly and concisely express (verbally and/or in written form) what you know about important concepts, theories, procedures, etc, learned in the course.

    Testing serves two important purposes:

    (a)   it assists greatly in reinforcing and consolidating information learned

    (b)   it gives you the opportunity to find cut what you know don’t know and what you can / cannot do.

    4.      Preparation

    Study groups can be put to effective use in preparing written assignments, and preparing for tests and exams. In preparing written assignments you could examine the requirements of the question(s) given, look at ways of answering the question(s), and pool your ideas together. Later you could check each other’s drafts for clarity, structure, etc. Preparing for tests and exams could involve, among other things, dividing topics to prepare, looking at past exam papers, practising how to answer questions, etc.

    Other Suggestions

    1. If there is a lot of reading to do in your papers you can share these out between members of the group. However, try to make it so that there are overlaps – i.e., at least two people read the one article, chapter, or section of the study guide or textbook. Make summary notes; photocopy these and distribute to other the members of the group; explain / discuss as appropriate.

    2. Contact each other when study related problems are encountered. However, be considerate and do not start talking about other non-study related issues and keep the other person on the phone for too long when the other person might be trying to study or doing other important things during that time.

    3. If nothing is happening during your study group meeting (e.g. because no one prepared, etc), do not give up, resort to gossiping, and waste your time. Do individual revision first by reading relevant parts of your text, study guide, or notes.