There are a few effective methods that will help you study with partners or groups, but you have to know them before you get into that group setting—or else run the risk of no one getting much working done. I’m not a huge proponent of group work, but with the right methods, it can be productive. Here’s another method I haven’t covered before: Try “think, pair, share” the next time you want to study with someone else.
What is “think, pair, share”?
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Think, pair, share is a teaching technique typically employed by instructors, but easily modifiable for more independent use. According to Western Governors University, it was developed by a professor named Frank Lyman in 1981 and is helpful for shy students, as it encourages them to engage in discussion.
The name basically tells you what you need to do: First, you think about the subject at hand, studying it until you are pretty sure you grasp it. Then, you pair up with someone to discuss it and share what you read, understand, and don’t understand with the group afterward. Ideally, by going over the material together, you’ll help each other fill in gaps in your understanding and enhance what you already know.
Why think, pair, share works for studying
If you’re familiar with other group study methods, like the jigsaw method or the Feynman technique, some of the elements of TPS might sound familiar. With jigsaw, each person in the group studies one part of the assigned text, then explains it to everyone else. When using Feynman, you explain the topic you studied as simply as you can to someone else who knows nothing about it. The difference is that with TP, everyone in the group knows the material before discussing, so you’re not necessarily teaching anyone or being taught, so much as you’re comparing ideas and understandings.
It works for largely the same reasons: When you’re sharing what you know, you make space for someone else to ask follow-up questions, forcing your brain to use active recall to search around for the answer—or sending you back to the source material to look it up. Hearing someone else’s perspective can help you reframe how you think of the topic, causing it to stick in your brain even more. For best results, use a critical reading strategy like SQ3R while reviewing the material on your own before you discuss with your partner.