Life Science Home Page

How to Create and Use
Biology Study Groups


Research indicates that study groups increase student success.
The following ideas will help you begin the process.

Starting a Study Group

How to get people together:


Choosing people to work with:


What about the Tutorial Center?

You can get a group together and utilize the tutorial center, or see if there is a group already meeting there.


Getting Started

Make sure everyone agrees on the purpose of the study group

Set the ground rules:
1. Decide on meeting times, places, logistics
2. Decide on group goals
3. Agree to everyone coming prepared, being on time, and using the time as effectively as possible
4. Agree to evaluate how you are doing as a group after two meetings.


Using your study group time effectively:

Here are some suggested activities you can do with your group:

  1. Have each person bring class notes and a list of questions about class topics.
  2. List topics in your study material and assign one person to teach (explain) the topics to everyone else.
  3. Take turns demonstrating a particularly interesting or challenging problem to each other on a             chalkboard or whiteboard.
  4. Check out the video of the topic you are studying from the Library or Reentry and review it together, then discuss questions and answers that come up.
  5. Pick several problems which could be potential test questions and do them together.
  6. When homework is finished, go back to last lesson in class and do the problems demonstrated in class or study guide.
  7. Practice making drawings which illustrate the parts of problems.
  8. Create a new way to illustrate the concept using everyday materials.
  9. Come to group with homework completed and discuss problems and concepts illustrated in study guide questions or problems.
  10. Brainstorm questions to ask the instructor during the next class.
  11. Bring past test questions (sometimes placed on reserve in the library by your instructor)
  12. Brainstorm test questions together.
  13. Agree to have each person bring in a list of 4 or 5 possible test questions to group and trade.
  14. Create a practice test situation (timed).
  15. Set your agenda for the next meeting and decide what each person needs to do to prepare for it.
  16. Use the strengths of group members (areas of knowledge and skill) to help others in their weak areas.
  17. Practice translating biology language into everyday English language.
  18. Make flash cards of terminology using your own words and trade cards.


What about group difficulties?

What problems might come up? What are some solutions?
People don't come prepared Have people clarify goals, needs, and purpose.
Decide to continue or not.
People tend to socialize instead of focusing on biology. Agree to spend the first 5minutes talking about whatever, then agree to start group.
One person dominates with questions Decide to take turns opinions or demonstrating or posing questions. Set a time limit or a question limit.
People feel dissatisfied with group Decide to evaluate your process as a group; what works what doesn't & propose solutions.
Some people tend to be passive Agree to have everyone bring in at least 2 questions they need answers to.

Break up into groups of two and work together.

Nothing seems to get done Agree to have one person facilitate by making a list of what people want to accomplish and one person to be a timekeeper.

Agree on how much time to give each item and stick to it.

People don't show up Decide if you want to continue. Find new participants who will make a commitment.

Compiled by faculty, staff, and students from the following Santa Rosa Junior College Instructional Departments and Programs: College Skills, Counseling and Guidance, Disability Resources, Mathematics, Life Sciences and the Tutorial Center.