Making the Most of Your Study Group
Peer tutoring and collaborative group learning are among the most cost effective educational strategies. In keeping with this, when I was studying for the CFA program, I was given access to supplemental materials in exchange for leading a study group. I had no training whatsoever in how to lead such a group and probably did quite a few things wrong.
If you are studying for a major exam, there is no need for you to make the same mistakes. Researchers looked at a number of studies on collaborative recall, and there are some useful takeaways.
- Work alone first. We all have our preferred ways of remembering information, and hearing multiple people sharing their own methods may disrupt the process.
- Recall together. Pooled individual recall was higher than that of collaborative groups, but the memory is retained longer. Being reminded of things that were forgotten helps to strengthen the learning.
- Keep the group small and close. Small groups tended to perform better than large ones, and friends and family members tended to perform better than groups of strangers.
Finally, make sure that the group meetings are well structured. Meet at least once per week and schedule a time (as well as a time limit.) Have a leader or leader rotation to keep discussions on track. Know in advance what you will be covering that week and split time between discussing the material and working problems.
Like the syllabus of many college courses, many programs such as the CFA outline a course of study, which should be useful for planning the study group. Use it to plan out the number of sessions and what you will cover in each one. Then get to work!
If you have participated in a study group and think there is something I missed, please be sure to let me know in the comment section.