Very often students are faced with a choice of whether they want to study in a group study. It might be difficult to pass upon a situation where you can study with your friends. Even if studying in a group may seem like a good choice it is not necessarily right as studying alone isn’t necessarily wrong.
Both self-study and group study have their own advantages and disadvantages. In this module, we will try to discuss the advantages of self-study over group study. Also, we will look at the pros and cons of group study. This information is totally unbiased and will provide you with the necessary information so that you can make the correct decision for yourself.
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We will try and answer some of the common questions revolving around the benefits of self-study and group study.
- Why is self study better than group study?
- What are the disadvantages of self-study?
- What are the pros and cons of studying in a group?
One thing to keep in mind is that it is not wrong if you prefer studying in a group over studying alone. At the end what matters is how focused you were when you were studying about the topic and how well did you understand it. Choose whatever works for you.
Benefits of Self Study over Group study
Self-study offers the students independence to study whatever topic they feel like studying wherever they want. If we think about it, it’s not so bad to study alone and it might have some key benefits that you might not get if you are working in a group.
When you study alone, the first and the most important thing you gain is control. You can control your study environment. You get the opportunity to choose what’s the best time to study a specific topic. You can be a night owl or an early bird or study in small pockets of intervals throughout the day. It’s all completely in your hands. You are firmly seated in the driving seat.
With this control, you can pick and choose how you want to tackle your syllabus. You can start with your strength and then try to bolster your weaker sections or do it the other way around. The choice is completely yours.
This control of how you want to plan out your study time gets distributed once you are working in a group. Think of it as ordering food for yourself vs ordering food for everyone. You have to keep in mind what some specific person likes or dislikes. As soon as the group dynamics kick in, decision making is distributed between a number of people.
You know yourself best:
When you plan your studies, you have a fair amount of information about yourself. It is very obvious, we know ourselves better than anyone else. So I might choose an option that is best for me. Also, the study pattern and resources impact how we want to study.
After I have freshly studied a concept, I prefer doing as many questions as possible to solidify the concept into my brain. But you might think differently, you might prefer studying the concepts two or more times to solidify the concept first before you jump into how to solve the problems.
When you are studying alone, you have control over this decision and you choose what’s best for you rather than what’s best for all of us. In a group we have to think about the group as a whole, so the decision made may or may not be the best one for you.
To focus while studying is a daunting task for some of us. Adding another one to the list of distractions might not help the case. This is probably one of the fundamental benefits of studying alone. If you have control over yourselves, you can create an enriching and knowledgeable experience for yourself.
A group study meeting can go south anytime and it requires constant focus and participation of all the members. If one of the members starts feeling bored or is attentive that feeling reciprocates to the group and the time allotted for studying might get converted into relaxation or leisure time.
When studying it is of utmost importance that you reduce the distractions as much as possible and this is a benefit which self-study offers over group study.
Disadvantages of Studying alone
A coin has two sides and so does studying alone. It has his pros but also has some cons that we feel we should discuss with you. These are not the disadvantages of self-study but more so the added benefits of group study over self-study.
- A friend in need is a friend indeed- Often it happens that while tackling a difficult concept you might get stuck. It usually happens to all of us. As there is no immediate help available at the moment you might have to skip the part you are confused in which may have its complications.
Even then as we live in a new world age, there is so much information available online in the form of tutorials and offline in the form of guide books. Students can use these reference tools in case of any doubts.
- Lack of Motivation – Sometimes studying for longer periods of time makes you tired and also there are days you feel not up to the task of studying. These are the days when you can gain if you are working in a group. So if studying alone is getting too boring, you might want to mix up things.
One suggestion here is that you should study for smaller intervals. According to various studies, retention of information is far better if you study for shorter periods of length like 20 minutes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Study
We have discussed various advantages of working alone rather than in a group, but it doesn’t imply that working while being in a group is not a suitable way of studying. Group dynamics also bring some added benefits to the table which might help students.
Sense of competition
There is always room for good competition. It helps you in pushing yourselves and making strides forward. It is often a motivating factor in helping students who feel bored while studying alone to take part in a group activity and learn with everyone else.
Also working in a group allows for that sense of team spirit to kindle. “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together”.
Group discussions are a great way to test your knowledge of a subject. While indulging in a group discussion you have to work those extra brain cells in formulating better arguments for your solution or better methods as to how you can solve a problem.
Also while discussing you can get some good pointers that you can write in your exams. Also, it helps in the retention of information.
One obvious benefit is your doubts are catered to while being in a group. A group allows for each person to get on the same page as everybody but that depends on how the group functions. Even then what your weakness might be, it could be someone’s strong point. You can get your doubts regarding the topic or concept clarified when you are working in a group.
A wider pool of Information
When you are working in a group, what you get is a number of brains with different information about different topics. It all adds up to the pool of knowledge. This information which would have been quite difficult to collect all by yourself is available to you only because you are working in a group.
Now that we have discussed the various advantages of studying in a group and how it can help you in your preparations. But even then, group study has its fair share of cons. These are discussed in detail:
- Too much distraction/talking
It is very easy to get lost when studying in a group. It could be that one minute you are all inside your books and the next minute someone mentions something and the ship starts drifting. Talking too much distracts the group from its motive.
- Sub-optimal learning
When working in a group, due to group dynamics you learn at a suboptimal rate. The pace of the group could be faster or slower than what you would alone and both the cases are somewhat away from the optimal pace at which you understand or learn best. You might have to slow down your pace sometimes or to learn faster to be able to keep up with the group.
- Cancelled group study plans
If the plan of meeting up and studying an important topic gets rescheduled a number of times, you might want to switch up to studying alone. This usually happens while working in a group. To fix a time and place that is most suitable for everyone is no easy task.
How do I know what works best for me?
Now that we have more clarity over how studying alone and studying in group work, it is now a suitable time for you to make a choice as to how you want to go about it. Usually, a combination of both can be the best way possible to go about it. It will give you the benefits of both ways and prepare you well for your exams. Combining both the techniques is well placed to give you a better understanding of topics and can help in achieving overall development.
To know what way is better for you, you need to find the answers to some questions that will help you to make an informed choice.
Do I need a certain environment to focus better?
If you need a controlled environment, studying alone will be beneficial for you and if you prefer a flexible environment while studying, you can go with studying in a group.
Is the topic too difficult for me?
If the topic is not too difficult, it will be better for you to stay at your home and prepare it yourselves, but if you believe you will need some support and help while tackling the concepts, you can always choose to study in a group as it will help you to understand the difficult concepts better.
Is the topic subjective or objective?
It is obvious to state that discussing a subjective topic in a group will be good for the understanding of the topic. As more people will pitch in their thoughts and opinions, you can feed off that pool of information. In case of an objective type topic, that requires you to follow certain steps, studying alone and practising them over and over again can give you a better grasp of the subject.
Ask yourself questions like these and understand what suits you. If you believe you and the entire group can benefit from studying together. You should definitely try and make some plans to study together. Solving papers together or giving a test can be some examples where a group can work better. Also, have a clear motive before studying no matter you are in a group or studying alone.
The right way of studying is the one in which you feel the most comfortable. This article tried to give you a clarity of what studying in a group or studying by yourself works and will feel like. It is advisable you try both of them and choose what suits you the best. Both ways have their own pros and cons which you can benefit from. If you still feel very confused, you can begin by studying alone and asking for help in case you are stuck. Choose what’s best for you and push yourself to do better always.