How to Form a Dynamic and Inclusive College Study Group

When I was in college, my friends and I had a group called: The Library Monkeys. Every few weeks, we would study for an upcoming test or project. More often than not, meetings became excuses to catch up on gossip and eat junk food. They were fun at the time. Who does not love hanging out with friends? But these meetings did not help me improve my grades. It was not until later that I formed a more focused study group that my grades significantly improved.

BlogEducationHow to Form a Dynamic and Inclusive College Study Group

When I was in college, my friends and I had a group called: The Library Monkeys. Every few weeks, we would study for an upcoming test or project. More often than not, meetings became excuses to catch up on gossip and eat junk food. They were fun at the time. Who does not love hanging out with friends? But these meetings did not help me improve my grades. It was not until later that I formed a more focused study group that my grades significantly improved. 

During college you might feel overwhelmed by all the work. Be it attending classes, working on papers, having a social life, and managing your finances or living costs. That might make it harder to keep grades up. Being part of a virtual study group can help ease some of that stress — if done right! A successful virtual study group should be dynamic and inclusive, which means everyone involved should feel as though they add value to the group. 

Virtual study groups are a great way to enhance your learning skills and experience 

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The benefits of forming virtual study groups 

In the wake of COVID-19, more work and study have moved to online platforms. Virtual platforms are convenient and safer and will allow more flexibility. After all, some students might have busy schedules and different timetables. It helps reduce carbon footprints which will alleviate global warming. There will be less need to commute if people opt to study from home. 

Another benefit of a virtual study group is that it does not have to be limited to students in your area (Studyverse). It could be a way to meet new people and exchange different ideas and viewpoints. That will give your group an enriching experience and perhaps be a chance to make new friends! 

Study groups are needed to learn effectively (Bethel, Maine & the University of British Columbia). There is a learning pyramid that highlights seven key areas of study. These are lectures, reading, audio-visual, demonstration, discussion groups, practice by doing, and teaching others. Using study groups boosts three of these skills. Demonstration, discussion groups, and teaching others are greatly improved. Not all students form virtual study groups, but evidence suggests it is a crucial aspect of learning. 

Forming an online study group means holding meetings and study sessions frequently without having to meet in person. I still recommend you meet at least once or twice a week.

Finding a location that works for everyone in the group

When choosing a physical location, keep in mind that you want to find a place that works for everyone in your group. It is best if it is quiet, comfortable, and distraction-free. Make sure everyone can hear each other clearly without shouting or raising their voices too much. Finally—and this is important—make sure everyone feels comfortable! You do not want anyone feeling ill at ease because they are sitting on an uncomfortable couch or chair or are too hot or cold due to poor air conditioning (or lack thereof).

Try to also make time for campus study group meetings  

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So how do you create a dynamic online college study group? Let us take a look! Here are some tips for helping you form a group:

Find common ground

When forming any group or community, it is necessary to figure out commonalities among the people involved. That means sharing similar interests and goals that draw you together as part of the same club or organization (or simply as friends). It is helpful if there are things that bring you together as individuals beyond those shared characteristics. 

That might include hobbies outside of schoolwork like music and video games. You might have shared experiences like growing up in the same city. It could also be personal challenges you have overcome, such as depression after losing someone close due to suicide by gun violence. Finding common ground can help in forming a virtual study group.

Choosing the right people

The most crucial step in creating an online college study group will be finding members to form the group. 

Ask your classmates if they are interested in joining the group. Let them know what they can gain and discover what subjects or classes they intend to improve. If you have a challenging course which most majors do, you could zone in on it more. That will encourage more of your classmates to join in. Or perhaps you could find people online studying a similar course or subject. It is not necessary to have a lot of people in the group. They could be a handful, and you would still benefit. 

If you can access the email list for your classmates, it could be a quick way to let other students know. Stick to one or two emails to avoid spamming or bothering uninterested classmates. 

Choose people who are motivated and willing to work hard. The members of your study group should be on the same page about their goals for the semester—and life after graduation. If one person is there because they want an easy A, and another only wants to have fun with friends at school, it may not be a good fit. It is crucial for group members to stay focused and avoid the drama (ECPI University blog). There need to be set rules to avoid problems and arguments which could hinder progress. 

or a study group to be successful and enriching, it needs all these qualities from its members so that they can work together as a team toward achieving their goals.

Form an effective system 

To be successful, you need to have an effective system. That will help keep meetings on track and prevent them from devolving into chaos. 

Here are some things you can do:

Set a schedule 

The best way is probably once or twice per week, but it depends on how busy your schedules are and how much time you want to devote. 

Set a time for the online meeting (for example, 5 p.m.)

Try not to make it too early or late in the evening—you do not want people distracted by other activities! Since it is online, most people can log into their computers after classes. Avoid dinner time and after, as some might feel tired by then. 

Pick an appropriate time when everyone will have enough space and privacy (e.g., home study, bedroom, or living room area). You may also want to use speakers if there is a discussion about important topics. That way, everyone can hear what is being said clearly without disturbance from background noise from TVs/phones etc.

Pick a time when you can all have a quiet workspace 

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Express areas where you need help

College students are not experts at everything yet! They may have strengths but still need guidance when tackling topics outside their comfort zones. All group members can express areas, subjects and topics where they need help with. 

If someone asks a question that seems simple but is very complicated (or vice versa), do not be afraid to admit that you do not know the answer! Just say it out loud: I have no idea. That can help build trust between group members who may not know each other very well. It could help them understand their limits within this particular topic area. They might even realize how far beyond those limits they should go.

Discuss topics that are difficult so that your group mates can help you out 

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Take turns leading 

With regards to leading group activities, be sure to take turns. Do not feel like you have to be the leader all the time. Take turns. So each member gets to share a particular knowledge or skill set. If some of your group members are shy or introverted, they might not want to speak up in front of everyone else. 

Try asking for volunteers for each task. That way, you all have a chance to be involved in the discussion and make new connections with other students in your group. A virtual study group will also need a session moderator. They will help keep the group on topic and ensure that everything runs smoothly. The moderator could be the group leader, or someone else can do it. 

Set goals for each meeting

Instead of winging it, you could discuss which subjects or areas you would like to focus on for the next virtual meeting. It will make things feel more organized, and your group will not waste time on unnecessary or easy tasks. When there are clear goals set, it is easier to move forward faster and go further. You will be able to tackle the areas that you each struggle with and gain something meaningful from the study group.

Set goals for the group leader

The group leader will need to take on more than everyone else. It would be wise to pick someone more knowledgeable about the course you are studying. It could also be someone who is highly responsible and can help everyone. The group leader has to be reliable. It cannot be an individual who will log in late or fail to come for a session. 

Create a safe space for asking questions

Create a space where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas without judgment from others who might disagree with them. That way everyone can be free enough to express themselves without fear of being made fun of if they run into someone else while walking through campus grounds later down the road. 

If someone suggests something different from what's written in your textbook or on Wikipedia, don't dismiss it as wrong just because it's new. Consider all possibilities! And if one person makes an argument that seems wrong to everyone else in the group, don't jump on them. Ask questions until everyone understands where they're coming from before making final judgments about their ideas.

Be respectful of others opinions. Your goal is to learn new things, not prove how smart or right you are. It is necessary to create an environment where all group members feel free to express themselves without fear of being wrong. That will allow everyone in the group to benefit and improve their grades. 

Deciding how your virtual study group will connect 

There are several apps that can facilitate a virtual chat room. Pick one that everyone can use easily 

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Your group members might have access to platforms like Zoom, Google hangouts, Facebook and Skype. These all have group video calls and chat room features. You will need to decide on a platform for the online study sessions. 

For you to reap the benefits of a dynamic study group, you will need to take the time to create and organize it well. That might be time-consuming. Luckily, Journal Owl can assist you in creating a virtual study group. If you check our site, you can find that option. That will make it stress-free and quicker for you to set things up. 

Consistency is necessary in terms of which platform you will be using. Using the same one weekly will allow the entire group to become familiar with its features. 

Deciding your meeting format

Research suggests that regular meetings are necessary to keep your group on track. But if they are too frequent, it can be difficult for everyone to attend. Your meetings should also last long enough. So everyone has time to get work done and feel productive at the end of each session. But not so long that people lose interest or stop paying attention.

Set a clear Target

Before you start, it is best to have a clear target in mind. That will help guide your study group toward success. If your goal is too vague or general, it will not be as helpful when deciding what topics to go over.

To make things simpler, everyone could get a topic from one chapter. That will allow each person to specialize and go into greater detail. Try not to make it too much since others may have research papers and tests to complete outside the study group. 

A good way of setting targets is by answering these questions:

- What do my classmates want out of this group?

- What do I want out of this group?

For example, one member wants help with writing essays. Another member wants help understanding calculus concepts better so that they can get an A on their upcoming test. Then those two needs may conflict because they require different types of assistance (essay versus math). So before starting any study group with friends or classmates, define what kind of help you are looking for to avoid conflicts later down the road!

A good study group can help you succeed in college. So it is necessary to pick well

College study groups can be highly beneficial. A study about how collaborative learning impacts college students assessed the effectiveness of study groups (Alberto F Cabrera. et al.). The results showed that collaborative learning positively affected student outcomes. If done the right way, study groups can help students perform better. Studying in groups encourages students to achieve more work and progress. It is a commitment. 

Find people willing to help you learn new things and teach them something in return! Learning together ensures that everyone stays engaged rather than falling behind while waiting for others ideas or questions. It is also good when everyone contributes something unique. No single person can know everything about everything, so having different viewpoints is extremely valuable academically and socially. 

Keep things light-hearted 

Make room for banter, jokes and light conversations in between 

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It is good to be part of an online study group to improve your overall performance. But it is also necessary not to take things too seriously. It is okay to get some non-school interactions but still get work done (Kaitlin McManus). As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

That goes for anything in life, especially so for school and studying. Have snacks, drinks, and room for short periods of banter, laughter, and jokes inbetween. Taking things too seriously could hinder your efforts to form an online study group. 


College can be stressful, but there are ways to ease the burdens. Completing a college degree is a crucial milestone for anyone. A study group is one way to accomplish this goal and make the most of your time at school. It is the best ways to stay on top of your studies and keep up with the workload. 

I have outlined some steps above to ensure your group is beneficial. If you have other ideas on forming a dynamic and inclusive college study group, let us know in the comments below! We hope these tips will help you find the perfect group for your needs and make this next semester great!


Virtual Study Groups: The Smart Students Guide

UBC Science, Tips for Starting a Successful Study Group

Collaborative learning: Its impact on college student’s development and diversity

Alberto F Cabrera, Jennifer L Crissman, Elena M Bernal, Amaury Nora, Patrick T Terenzini, Ernest T Pascarella

ECPI University Blog

4 Tips for Setting Up a Virtual Study Group. By: Kaitlin McManus



Friday, February 10, 2023