Developing Effective Study Groups Working Collaboratively
Studying for Memory & Application • Many quick repetitions strengthen recall • Tying current material back to material or analysis from past classes may reveal important patterns – (Another type of repetition) • Give context • What is like this that I know? • Try to find current examples of the principles being studied. • Discuss purpose of principles • Are there public policy issues to explore
Learning Cycle Supported by Study Groups • Learning involves: • Input: gathering information • Processing: contexting, organizing, and storing information for future use • Output: applying information to new contexts and situations • Unfortunately, what goes in may not come out clearly or accurately. Study groups increase effective learning by: • Identifying and clarifying gaps or misunderstanding • Helping students learn to apply information to new contexts, reinforcing learning
The Purposes of a Study Group Are: • To clarify information • To apply legal knowledge and reasoning to factual situations • To test understanding through discussion and debate within the group. • To practice writing exam questions. • Study on your own before and after session • Review what you learned in study group as part of good study practices
How to Form a Study Group • Seek 2 or 3 others • Check assumptions with potential members about what a study group does. • Clarify the time commitment each wants to make? • Choose members on the basis of common goals and commitment to those goals. • Do NOT form study groups primarily on the basis of friendship, similarity of thinking, or political conviction. • Diversity is a plus in study groups.
Guidelines for Forming Study Groups: • Optimal size: 3-4 persons • Rotate leadership • Role of leader is to involve all participants in discussion • Set purpose and goals for the group. • At the end of each meeting set an agenda for the next meeting to help members focus and prepare • Establish set meeting and ending times. Stick to the set time schedule. • Hint: Talking about school is a diversion. It often happens when students feel anxiety about material. Some people establish a “fund” to which people who divert the focus must contribute. This provides resources for a party after exams!
Agenda Choices • Focus in meeting • One subject or more than one each meeting • Stick to set subject or jump to course that provides current confusion • Type of Focus • Oral discussion • Writing problems • Remember that you get good at skills you practice and the exam is a written exercise! • Try having group write answers to a hypo and trade answers. Then construct a group answer. • Creating hypos is an excellent exercise for groups and for individuals to bring to the group. • Taking turns explaining and questioning
Organizing • Organizing is important to learning and to writing exams. In a study group, note some of these important elements: • Patterns • Legal tests • Steps of analysis • Answers to exam questions must be organized • Be sure to have a planning step when approaching exam questions and hypos in a study group • Brainstorm issues and facts that support your legal theories, and then organize them to be most responsive to question • Use your outline/organizing tool to help plan
Tasks Change With Time in Semester • In the beginning groups commonly clarify class notes, but quickly they need to move to applying what they are learning to test their understanding. • Don’t put off planning and writing practice problems • Easier to understand material by using concrete examples • Try to create hypos in your group – then vary the facts and see if or how that changes your analysis • Organize materials individually, but: • Test your organizing by using your system in study group with writing answers to hypos • Trade answers, read, critique, discuss, and improve • Before exams groups often meet frequently to do practice questions.
Work Together: Teaching and Learning • Commit to the success of each member of your group!
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