Pros and Cons of Study Groups

What are our incentives to set up a study group? Teamwork to boost efficiency? Peer pressure turned into motivation? Or just to indicate that we are not antisocial? Whatever our motivations may be, I decided to assess the pros and cons of study groups after meeting with mine.

Study room
Study groups: ideally, what happens in this room stays in your mind. Photo from Flickr Creative Commons.


Peer pressure plus supervision

I am happy to see peer pressure used in a positive way, rather than in the form of outfit contests among girls in high school. Admit it: when you sit alone in your room or even the library, resolved to study for three hours, half an hour later you find your fingers slipping away from books to your cellphone. However, in the last meeting with my study group members I didn’t touch my cellphone once during three hours of case review. In addition, if one of your classmates appears knowledgeable and can answer every question you ask, you don’t want to look ignorant in the discussion; therefore, you work harder to become better prepared before your meeting.

Reduction of workload

Before starting to make my own outline, I decided to review all the cases I had learned. It seems like mission impossible if I do it alone. But thanks to my fellow students, I need to review only one-third of those cases. The two other members walk me through the rest of the cases and share their reorganized notes with me. It REALLY boosts efficiency.

Clearance of doubt (or production of more doubt?)

For the first time in my life, I genuinely like a know-it-all in a group. The person cleared up a lot of my doubts and answered many of my questions. However, one should refrain from relying on another person’s judgment even though he/she is well informed. One should always believe primarily in one’s own reasoning and research. Besides clearing up doubts, discussion among group members can create new doubts, which you can ask the professor about together.

Making your studying more fun

During study breaks, group members often discuss useful/interesting/contentious topics such as the best moisturizer you have used for winter, being obsessed with taking photos of food, and China and India’s border disputes. All those discussions make our study easier and fun.


Danger of unpunctuality/rescheduling

Of course, everything comes with a price tag. When you are on a team, not everything is within your control, such as others’ time management. You cannot prevent people’s being late. And you cannot prevent last-minute emergencies. There are always people on their way, and you should always be prepared to reschedule. So teamwork is actually not that easy, huh?

Unimportant arguments

Even though everyone usually bears in mind that we should stick to the core of the class, some people may deviate from it from time and time. Although some discussions are truly interesting, those trivial discussions may distract us from focusing on the important issues.

Personally speaking, however, I think the pros outweigh the cons, and look forward to continuing my study group meetings next semester!