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Broncs Effective Study Teams (BEST)

Why form study groups when tutors are available?

Tutoring services are a great resource for students, but tutoring is not always available for all classes. For example, the Learning Assistance Center, the University Writing Center, and other centers on campus have great tutors, but tutoring is not offered in many upper-division classes. Furthermore, some tutoring is for special populations of students or for specific classes. Does that mean that you get a free pass from studying? No, you still need to study, and study groups composed of peers may be helpful.

What is the best advantage of peer study groups?

Peer study groups are made up of students from your specific class. That means you have similar deadlines for projects and tests, and you can study with someone who is going through the content exactly as you are. During your study group time, you can a puzzle together over what the professor wants in an assignment or what the professor will be looking for on a test or quiz.

Study group time is also your opportunity to compare experiences with successful and unsuccessful study strategies. Is someone doing well on quizzes? Maybe, that person can share his/her study strategies with the group. All in all, working with someone in your class can be really helpful and give you more confidence with academic material.

Do I still have to take notes and attend class if I am working with a study group?

The answer to this question is an unequivocal “YES!” Working with a study group does not relieve you of your responsibilities as a student. You must take your own quizzes, take your own tests, and do your own reading.

Ideally, all group members are attending class regularly and taking notes. During your study group time, you can compare notes to fill in gaps in them and quiz each other on content. Not doing your part of group work (committing to a schedule, showing up, and doing your preparatory work, such as attending class, reading your materials, and paying attention to group members) are grounds for being voted out of a group.

Well, having study groups sounds like a lot of work! Why should I do it?

Working to form and maintain a successful study group is helpful in the long term and short term.

Short-term benefits

  • Having a study group gives you more confidence as a student. If you have questions, you have a nice person to ask questions of, which is much more comfortable than asking questions of a professor (if you have a question that only a professor can answer, you can nominate a bold group member to do the asking the next class day).
  • Reviewing and explaining class content to your study group helps you learn the material better and recall it better (think comprehensive final). This is an advantage many tutors enjoy since their learning of the material increases each time they help students.
  • If you happen to be out, you have someone to call and get details from about your missed class (remember, this should not happen often).

Long-term benefits

  • Employers often remark that college graduates are unable to work effectively in groups. The negotiation that comes with forming and maintaining a successful study group gives you experience in this specific area.
  • Working with the material in a study group often leads to better critical reading and thinking skills because you will need to present and defend your answers to your group members.

Resources for UTPA students in study groups (links to a page containing free tips related to starting and maintaining study groups)

Study Areas in UTPA

Learning Assistance Center—Private, enclosed room in LEAC 106a:

  • May be reserved in advance (time limit is 2 hours) by coming to Social Sciences area of LAC (room 106) or calling 956-665-2537
  • Room holds 6-8 people

Library—3rd floor rooms:

  • May be reserved in advance (time limit is 2 hours)
  • UTPA ID is needed for reservation
  • One room holds 6
  • Second room holds 12

Student Union—4 rooms

  • Available on a first-come, first-served basis
  • White Wing and Egret have no time limit
  • Kiskadee and pelican have round table and whiteboard
  • UTPA ID is needed

If you are a resident of Unity Hall or Heritage Hall, please ask your housing coordinator about available study areas in your residence hall.