Group sessions can be very useful for students in the same courses or the same situation. However, it can be challenging for the Mentor to appeal to all the students; therefore, being aware of the needs of all the group members can help greatly. Though there is not a “best” approach for any particular group, below are some suggestions.
1. Arrive at least ten minutes early to set up the room for a larger group and to make sure all the members have time to sign in and for you to introduce yourself.
2. Begin by getting to know the students’ names, main reason for coming to the session, their biggest issues, and their hardest courses. Have them all openly share with you and each other. Many times, you may be surprised to find that there will be many commonalities with their issues and courses.
3. Cater the session to everyone, making sure to touch on all of the major issues they mentioned earlier.
4. Make sure that you talk to all the group members—do not isolate anyone. Make it interactive and ask all of their opinions and strategies on the topics you are discussing.
5. Have students write down information that you and their peers provide. Encourage them to stop you and have you repeat concepts if they get behind.
6. There are no set agendas to have for a group, but often group members struggle with similar issues:
- Note-Taking- Almost all students have problems with taking down the information a professor is presenting. Pick a strategy, such as the Cornell Note-Taking System, and go over it briefly with the entire group.
- Time-Management- This tends to be a major problem for all students in a group, especially if they have a very busy schedule. Have them make a copy of a weekly schedule and discuss ways to implement study times. If they are procrastinating, give them coping strategies.
- Where/When to Study- Encourage the group to pick a place free from distractions and to pick a time when their concentration levels are at their peaks (11 am-8 pm). Encourage them to get as much studying done earlier in the day (if an athlete, before practice, if possible). Encourage them to study daily and schedule study times into shorter, manageable sessions.
- Setting Goals- This is extremely important, as many students never think about their long-range goals. It can motivate students to go above and beyond.
- General Test-Taking Approaches- Though this may be more difficult with a group, try and cover a very basic five-day test approach strategy. Encourage them to modify it as they see fit, but make sure that they know that spreading out study sessions before a test is far more effective than cramming.
- Group Sessions/Discussions-Encourage them to do in the future exactly what they are doing now—have group sessions to study throughout the week. The more they can explain concepts to each other, the more information they are processing and remembering.
7. If needed, encourage them to come back for more one-on-one help with you after they have implemented some of the strategies discussed during the session. Also encourage them all to come back to the ULC for tutoring in subject specific areas.
8. Remember, every group will be different. Plan ahead with some general strategies, but then find out at the beginning of the session what the members most need help with and go from there.