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How to get the most from online study groups

Concordia Welcome Crew mentors share top tips for peer-based remote learning
January 18, 2021
By Amnah Abdul Razzak, Farhana Jumki Haque, Afroza Khanam Chowdhury and Kavya Patel

Study groups are an essential part of university life. With the lockdown measures extended into 2021, forming and maintaining such groups can be challenging. Concordia Student Success Centre Welcome Crew mentors Amnah, Farhana, Afroza and Kavya share some tips on how to study together virtually.

Look for study buddies in pre-existing groups

Farhana: The easiest way for me to find other students in my class and create a study group is “staying back” after class on Zoom to connect with fellow classmates. I like to exchange email addresses and contact information to stay in touch.

Professors also sometimes create discussion forums on Moodle, where students from the course can engage and exchange ideas. And on Moodle you can personally message classmates by viewing the Participants list.

Kavya: Facebook, WhatsApp, Discord, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are a few of the many social platforms where you can meet people and form study groups.

For those in their first year, the New Concordians 2020-2021 Facebook group is a great starting point to meet peers and create groups. Concordia also offers Office 365 Education for free, and MS Teams and OneDrive are excellent resources to store and share files.

Organize your time wisely

Amnah: I like to book specific time slots for studying and create a routine. Schedule your study time based on how often your group is meeting, the number of people in the group and the workload for each course. Helpful scheduling platforms include Doodle and Calendly. Give it a few sessions to understand the dynamics of the group since everyone has a different learning style.

Afroza: Given that everything else is online, losing the concept of time is very easy. I like to keep our group study blocks to a maximum of one to two hours to make sure we are focused and attentive.

I also find it helpful to turn my phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode to keep distractions to a minimum. And I highly encourage my groupmates to take scheduled breaks and stretch. It works wonders! 

If you are struggling with time management or need to give a boost to your study skills, Learning Services at the Student Success Centre will offer a time management clinic on January 22 and multiple workshops throughout the term.

Prioritize efficiency

Farhana: Be weary of large study groups as conversations tend to wander and very little gets done. Groups of four to five people help make sure the entire team is focused and quality work gets done. But also take some time at the beginning of each session to check in with your groupmates to see how they are doing. Sometimes a simple conversation can give a huge boost to your productivity.

Amnah: At the beginning of every study group session, evaluate the understanding of each student to ensure everyone is on the same page, and review important concepts, as necessary. That way, you are not only making the best use of everyone’s time but also setting the pace for the rest of the study session. Be sure to expect changes, however! Creating an agenda is very helpful to make sure the necessary topics are covered and that you stay on track.

Be comfortable and communicate often

Afroza: My pet peeve is when one person in the group does all the talking or manages all the work. This is an absolute no-no because it misses the point of study groups!

Make sure to respect each other and ensure that each individual is comfortable within the group. It is also completely okay to pace yourself and switch groups if you are overwhelmed or feel like you are lagging behind.

Kavya: Making an extra effort to keep in touch is important now more than ever. Inform your groupmates if you are absent or cannot meet a deadline. I cannot emphasize enough how necessary it is to be committed and mindful of your actions. Make documents accessible to everyone in the group and keep in touch to motivate each other.

For more tips, check out this great handout by Learning Services at the Student Success Centre on
How to Set Up and Maintain a Virtual Study Group.



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