There may not be many students in Robert E. Kennedy Library’s group study rooms during the first week of school, but before long, midterms will loom and the library’s signature fishbowls will be occupied almost around the clock by study groups cramming for upcoming tests or presentations.
More than one Cal Poly student has discovered the power of working together in groups, and when it’s time to prepare for a test or presentation, Cal Poly students look to study buddies to help them get the work done.
Looking for help
Studying with a partner or in a group can help students understand information they struggle with, agricultural business senior Kyle Smith said.
“If I need help I definitely will look for other classmates to get help,” he said.
Two students who are struggling with a subject can help each other through it, Smith said.
Smith chose to work with a classmate in a logistics class to help him understand a shipping problem, he said.
“We had to look into how you would place an order and how it would get shipped,” Smith said.
When working in a team on problems like this, Smith said he prefers to try and understand the problem as much as he can on his own, and then turn to his study buddy.
Sometimes, the assignment might be too much to finish in a few hours, at which point it’s time to set it aside and come back another day, Smith said.
An extra pair of eyes
Some students, such as accounting graduate student Sarah Billingsley, use study buddies for feedback on presentations.
Billingsley said she usually works on problems and readings alone, but will ask a friend for help before giving an important presentation, she said.
“Just to bounce ideas off each other and hear someone’s perception and feedback is helpful,” Billingsley said.
Working one-on-one has other benefits, Billingsley said. Two study buddies can meet almost anywhere, while larger study groups might struggle to find study spots, Billingsley said.
“If it’s just one other person you can go anywhere,” Billingsley said.
The rote approach<—what does that stand for? it’s not mentioned below
Other students, such as art and design junior Allie Rogge, study in groups when memorizing material for classes. Rogge said she prefers to tackle problems by herself, but when it comes to memorizing places and dates for a history class, she’ll work in a team.
“I’ve studied with other people when it’s an information-based class, when it’s something that you have to memorize,” Rogge said.
The benefit of studying in a group is being able to help teach other group members, which Rogge said is one of her favorite ways to learn. On the downside, if no one in the group understands the material, than everyone in the group is out of luck, Rogge said.
Most of the time though, Rogge said she forgoes the study group to work on her own.
“I just find that I know how I learn best,” Rogge said.
Going at it alone
Rogge’s not the only one who likes to study on her own. Both Smith and Billingsley said they will study on their own depending on what the assignment is.
Accounting graduate student Natalie Erdman recommends studying alone first, even when she’s planning to study in a group.
“I don’t like to rely on someone else to teach me,” Erdman said.
Erdman will read all the material before meeting with a study group, and then use the group time as a review session before a test or quiz, she said.
This method helps drive the information home, Erdman said.
“They reiterate what I already tried to learn,” she said.