Pointers on How to Form a Good Online Study Group


Though many courses are going online, students should continue to embrace tried-and-true study methods.  Simply because you are physically isolated from your peers doesn’t mean you can’t form productive study groups: this is where digital, online technology comes in.  Unemployed Professors is happy to provide students with this brief guide on how to form successful and productive online study groups.

  • Steps to Forming a Good Online Study Group:
  • Ask your professor to send an email to classmates inviting them to your study group. Or, build the group over Zoom, or by direct message.
  • Studies show that optimal study group size is three-to-four members, and no more than five.
  • Select individuals you deem as motivated to excel. A study group is most effective and productive if it is formed of serious and committed members.
  • Choose an app or platform amenable to and usable by all.
  • At the first call, get everyone to introduce themselves, and articulate their goals in the class. After everyone has spoken, try to articulate a group goal which can help channel study efforts.
  • Determine logistics:
  • How many meetings
  • Meet up times that work for everyone
  • How to communicate during out-of-meeting times
  • Ensure unity by:
  • Designated someone for scheduling
  • Discuss measures for possible shirkers – what to do if someone is not meeting agreed expectations.
  • Assign a fair system by which each member is responsible for summarizing an equal number of lectures
  • During Actual Meetings:
  • Be prepared as host, and ensure the others are prepared prior to beginning.
  • Be organized and focused. Lead firmly, but with respect and tolerance.
  • Introduce the lecture summarizer and give a brief outline of the topics to be covered, and a general time schedule.
  • The lecture summarizers teach and facilitate the concepts for the group, including discussion.
  • Review assignments, problem sets, etc.
  • Ensure that time is allotted so that each person is given the opportunity to speak and voice ideas. As host, make this your responsibility.
  • Use video when possible. Be polite.  Use pronouns acceptable to the individual, not to you or the group.

Students frequently report that the number one thing that helps them excel in their courses is study groups.  Simply because you can’t hunker down in the library this year with your classmates and form a traditional study group, doesn’t mean that such a privilege is no longer available.  Find a few driven peers in your class, arrange a time to meet on your favorite online platform, and flesh out a plan of attack for group study this semester.  If you follow the above guide, you will be rewarded by positive results.

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