Throughout you education, you may take courses that require alternate methods of study and application. Some courses may require you to work in groups for projects, and others may require you to study in a group because the course is too difficult to be understood by an individual alone. Students study in groups to explain concepts to each other and to quiz each other. However, there also are disadvantages to studying in groups.
Advantages of Studying in a Group
Study groups are an ideal situation, theoretically. If everyone follows the rules, they can be beneficial for all involved. Students study well in a group because they are obligated to pull their own weight. They must read the material before getting together, so a study group session becomes a deadline to complete revising for a given amount of material. When students get together, they share ideas and hash out problems that would be too difficult for an individual to solve alone. When one student explain a concept to another, he reinforces the concept for himself. Had he been studying alone, he may not have considered the gaps in his knowledge. Studying is useless if the knowledge gained can’t be reproduced when required. A study group is beneficial intellectually but also emotionally, as students encourage each other to study.
People Repeating Information Affects Your Brain
Speaking out loud in a group or trying to explain something to someone else helps reinforce them. The more you repeat information, the stronger your long-term memory for that information becomes. The brain forms more synapses as you repeat the information and, the more synapses you have, the easier the information becomes to recall.
Study Groups Are a Must in Medical School
Study groups are especially beneficial for pre-med and medical students because their field of study requires a great deal of memorization of facts. These facts can’t all be learned by rote learning. Also, medical students have to study anatomy, which is nearly impossible to learn without the help of others during dissection and analysis of the detailed structures of bones and organs. Individual students find it virtually impossible to locate veins, nerves and other points of identification on their own.
Disadvantages of Studying in a Group
A study group only works if everyone does their part. The group sessions are only are strong as their weakest link. This means that, if one student is weak, his presence can be detrimental for everyone else. One loud, rowdy or unprepared student can make it difficult for everyone else to stay on track. Instead of making their way through the course, they often end up trying to motivate that student to keep up. Sometimes it’s not one student causing the problem but the group itself. An unmotivated or underprepared group can turn into one long gossip session.