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Are Study Groups Effective for Engineering Exam Prep?

  • 23 August, 2018

Many studies have been performed over the years to answer one main question: Why are study groups so effective? It turns out there are many reasons why study groups are so effective, but a few reasons include increased motivation, reduced procrastination, enhanced information absorption, and the ability to share study habits with group members. Read below to find out why study groups have these positive effects.

1. Study Groups Increase Motivation and Cohesion

Robert E. Slavin, a psychology researcher at John Hopkins University, wrote an article that explored different perspectives regarding the positive effects on study groups. As Slavin took a deep dive into many factors that affect one's academic success, the Motivational Perspective and the Social Cohesion Perspective are two perspectives that feature teamwork at its finest. The Motivational Perspective explores how students use their personal goals to better benefit the study group's efficiency. "To meet their personal goals, group members must both help their groupmates to do whatever helps the group to succeed and...to encourage their groupmates to exert maximum efforts." The Social Cohesion perspective "holds that the effects of cooperative learning on achievement are strongly mediated by the cohesiveness of the group, in essence that students will help one another because they care about one another and want one another to succeed."i

2. Study Groups Reduce Procrastination

The likelihood of procrastination is greatly reduced when choosing to study with a group vs. studying by yourself. The reason is simple: study groups typically schedule study sessions and expect all members of the group to attend. The use of devices that commonly cause distractions, such as mobile phones, is significantly decreased when studying with a group. According to an article on the matter published on Delaware Valley University's website, "Because you have an obligation to attend the study group meeting, you'll be sure to be there on time, engage with the other students and work to better understand the material."ii Engagement in the study group is key, as engagement often leads to grasping difficult material with the help of your peers.

3. Study Groups Make Absorbing Material More Efficient

Study groups are very effective in helping students fully review and absorb difficult material. A study regarding the effect of study groups was performed at Washington University. Researchers studied how participants behaved in study groups as well as their ability to retain complex information. During the study, researchers found that members of the study group periodically looked up and down from their notebooks as each team member discussed a topic. "We noticed when they did that it was a sign that they were learning the material at a deeper level. They would read it verbatim out of the notes and then look up and paraphrase it to the rest of the group. That eye gaze is a signal that they were starting to make the material their own," Keith Sawyer, a researcher on the project, said.iii

4. Study Groups Allow Members to Share Study Habits and Ideas

When studying in a group, one benefit that comes out of the study group is the ability to learn about others' study habits. Study groups allow a student to observe how their peers study, whether it be by annotating notes, making notecards, or even creating a structured study schedule. During the study sessions, the students can test out different study methods to see if any methods benefit them more than the ones they are currently using.iv

Studying for an exam, such as the PE Civil exam, in a group has a variety of benefits. If you are preparing for an NCEES exam, grab some coworkers or engineering friends to study with! School of PE offers group discounts to groups of five or more students with savings of up to $200 per registration.

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i Slavin, R. E. (1996). Research on Cooperative Learning and Achievement: What We Know, What We Need to Know. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 21(1), 43-69.

ii Benefits of a Study Group. (2015). Retrieved from
https://www.delval.edu /blog/study group benefits

iii Schoenherr, N. (2006). Discovering why study groups are more effective. Retrieved from
https:// source.wustl.edu / 2006/07/discovering why-study groups-are more-effective/

iv Study Group Tips and Advantages. (n.d.). Retrieved from
https://www.montclair.edu/ media/montclairedu/ residentialeducation/pdffiles/ Study-Group-Tips and-Advantages-1.pdf

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