0709- Study Techniques I: Studying In a Group

Lecture to Year 1 Semester 1 medical student PPSD session on 05th September 2007 by Prof Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.


Studying together with peers has all the advantages of team work. An individual is stimulated and motivated when he/she sees others studying and working hard. It is more difficult to feel tired and give up studying when in a group than when alone. Being in a study group gives emotional and psychological support that enable a student to have endurance especially when studying for a long time and under stress. The advantages of group study mentioned above can be achieved by sitting with a group of peers with everyone studying independently. More advantages can be achieved if the study is integrated. There are several ways of integrating study. The material to be studied can be divided into sections and each participant takes responsibility to research and prepare a presentation for the others. The advantage of this is that a participant in the group is able to obtain information and notes on a very wide range of topics in a short time. It would have cost him/her too much time to make the research on all the topics. Another way in which integration can be achieved is by working on specific projects or questions that require answers. The contribution of everybody is very enriching. Integration can also be achieved while preparing for examinations. Students can take turns asking others likely questions and then discussing the answers correcting one another. A very effective way of integrated study is to ask a member of the team to explain a difficult concept to the others. It benefits the speaker to discover gaps in knowledge and understanding in as much as it benefits listeners.



Group study like any other team activity has disadvantages. Members of the group may start feeling that they are special and thus become arrogant. They may even feel that they know and understand better than others and in time may start relaxing and eventually fail. Some members of the group may be suppressed from making useful contributions by other members who feel that they know more and thus tend to be domineering. Members in a study group may not have compatible personalities and intra-group conflicts may make group study less beneficial.



Each study group should have a leader who may be permanent or may be changed at each meeting. Members of the group should be of the same age groups and preferably same academic level. It is however possible to mix people of different ages and academic levels so that the young can learn from the older. The issue of single or mixed gender study groups should follow local customs. The group leader can lead discussion in some sessions and is also encouraged to delegate this responsibility to various members of the group. Whoever has the responsibility for leading discussions must time preparing for the session. The time and place of the meeting should be selected carefully to be convenient for all members. The leader should should make sure that all members participate. Special sessions should be set aside for collective self-evaluation by members of the group in terms of group dynamics and group achievements. The purpose should be fostering the spirit of sharing experiences and self-criticism. Members should greet one another before starting. All members should endeavor to know one another by name. Any member wanting to go out for a valid reason must obtain the permission of the leader. All members must learn to listen and not interrupt others. They must obey the instructions of the leader. Members must avoid quarrels or loud arguments. A spirit of tolerance should exist with the understanding that there could be more than one way of being right. Excessive laughing or joking should be avoided. Members should sit with proper etiquette.

ŠProfessor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr. September 2007