Lesson 2.5: Study Areas and Study Groups


Tips for Effective, Individual Study Spaces

Desk piled with papers, overflowing trash can
“Cluttered desk” by OpenClipart-Vectors is in the Public Domain, CC0

Most students more or less take what they can get when it comes to study areas. Schools usually offer a variety of nooks and crannies for students to hunker down and get their assignments done. The school library is a good (and quiet) place. Many common areas elsewhere on campus have tables, chairs, couches, and lounges to accommodate learners. But most students end up doing the majority of their outside of class work at home.

Home environments may be limited in terms of providing all of the recommended aspects of a good study space, but many of the recommendations can be either implemented or adapted from what a student has on hand or what can be improvised no matter what environment he or she is living in. Elements conducive to a more effective study/homework experience include such things as good lighting, ample supplies, comfortable seating, adequate space, and personalizing the study area to add a touch of inspiration and motivation.

Before taking a look at some expert advice to help you with your particular study area challenges, if any, complete the exercise below.



Describe your current study area at home–the good, the bad, the ugly. Be thorough.


Read what the experts advise in the article How to Make a Study Space and list as many ways you think you can realistically improve, change, (or start over…) your study area. Remember, you might not have the advantage of a whole room, or even a corner of a room, but there are still some changes you can make to create a more effective study environment. Take notes from the article for each of the “Parts” of an effective study area featured, as well as the “Tips” at the end. Organize your list, titled “How I Could Improve My Study Area,”  like this:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


Tips for Effective Study Groups

The list of tips linked in Exercise 5.2, below, is more for organizing the group itself, not just the location and equipment. Study groups, whether meeting in a dorm, the library (check your library to see if there are rooms you can reserve for this purpose), a coffee shop, or somewhere else, usually find what is convenient. What this lesson concerns are the dynamics of the group itself. That is, how to ensure that a study group does not devolve into more of a socializing occasion. The tips offered here cover such topics as the steps to take, warnings, and things you will need.


Read the article How to Form a Study Group and take notes on the following topics, titling your notes, “Effective Study Groups”:

8 Steps:



Things You Will Need:

NOTE: from your own experience with study groups, add anything else you have found to be effective.


PART A: Study Area–Help Tran

Create a plan for Tran, based on the recommendations, above, on how to organize a study are in her busy home where she lives with six members of her family.

Tran is a first year college student from Vietnam. She has been in the U.S. with her family for three years and recently passed the English Language Learner classes at the topmost level, so now she looks forward to pursuing her degree in Business Management.

She lives with six other family members, her mother, father, grandmother, and three younger siblings aged 14, 12, and 9. Their home is located right next door to the family restaurant. This makes it convenient for Tran and her parents to work their regular shifts and to fill in if one or the other is ill. Tran is also responsible at times to help her younger siblings with their homework and/or take them to school and other activities if her parents are busy. This usually occurs at peak times for customers in the restaurant. Her grandmother helps out when she can but arthritis flare-ups prevent her from working as much as she would like.

Tran does have a small bedroom to herself, but it also sometimes serves as a storage room for restaurant supplies, mostly paper goods, so it can get crowded.

She is anticipating setting up an effective homework/study area for what she knows will soon become more of an intensive course load.

PART B: Study Group–Help The Athletes

Jeb, Andrew and Nelson are first year students at the university on sports scholarships: Jeb for basketball, Andrew for tennis, and Nelson for track and field. They share an apartment near the college sports complex.  They are all taking Math 95 this term and realize that forming a study group as their instructor encouraged everyone to do would really help them, too.

One of the problems in getting a group going is that they are all big fans of ESPN and each one favors a different sport, so the television tends to be on long–and loud.

They also enjoy trying out all the restaurants in this southern city which is famous for having the best barbecue joints in the nation. They have calculated that there are at least seven restaurants nearby they want to get to know.

And then there are those campus parties on Friday and Saturday nights…

Although the men are highly motivated to eventually finish their degrees in business, culinary arts, and economics, they could use some advice on how to form a useful study group–and how to stick with it, particularly before their sports programs kick into high gear.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

How to Learn Like a Pro! Copyright © 2016 by Phyllis Nissila is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.