It’s a long-debated topic: Is group studying more effective than studying alone?
We’ve all experienced getting together with classmates to study for an upcoming exam and spending the entire time gossiping, talking or joking around. You leave the group without accomplishing anything to get you ready for your exam.
So, if people can be too distracting, how can group studying be more effective than studying alone? Surprisingly, there are benefits to both methods.
The Benefits of Studying Alone
When people think of studying, they picture themselves sitting alone in their bedroom or a quiet library with a book and notes sprawled out on the desk. It isn’t the most fun thing to do, but it’s necessary. The following are some benefits to studying alone.
When you lock yourself away in your room, there tend to be less distractions than when you are studying in a group or a public place. Nobody is moving around or talking near you. There are literally no distractions.
Personal Study Environment
Everyone is different, which means everyone learns differently. You may require classical music, a warm, toasty room, and a cup of tea while you study. Someone else may require complete silence, a chilly room, and no snacks at all. Studying alone allows you to set the perfect study environment so you get the most out of studying.
Studying alone also allows you to use the study tactics that are the most effective for your learning style. Some students learn best with flashcards, while others learn best when they reread chapters.
Study What You Need to Learn
There may be some topics in class that you really need to work on. When you study alone, you’re able to focus on exactly what you need to learn.
The Benefits of Group Studying
When you think of group studying, you may shrug it off because you think you won’t get any studying done. If you’re with motivated people who are focused, however, you may be surprised at just how beneficial group studying can be.
How many times have you said you were going to sit down and study but ended up binge-watching Netflix? When you set a date and time to get together with a study group, it prevents you from procrastinating because you know other people are counting on you to be there.
Retain More Information
When you study in a group, you tend to retain more information. This is because you paraphrase your notes and put the information in your own words rather than reading from a textbook. It’s very similar to teaching the others in your group, which leads to retaining the information better.
Gain New Insight and Perspective
Have you ever had a hard time grasping a concept for days or weeks? Then, suddenly, someone states the concept in a new way and it finally clicks! This is a major benefit of group studying. Being with other people allows you to gain different insights and perspectives on the material.
Which Is More Effective?
After looking at the benefits or studying alone or in a group, it can be difficult to tell which is more effective. The answer, according to a study conducted by a psychology professor, R. Keith Sawyer, Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, is that group studying is more effective.
“Study groups are so effective because they provide a way for students to make the lecture notes their own,” Sawyer says. “When students hear the voice of the professor and are taking notes, they are so busy writing that it’s hard for them to really absorb the material. What happens in the study-group setting is that students could absorb lecture notes and make them their own.”