Studying by yourself for long periods of time can get monotonous. One way to make learning more enjoyable is to study as a group, which has a host of other advantages, too. JEROME BARTY-TAYLOR of Barty Education and Development (BartyED) explains how, for the right kind of motivated teen student, Oxford-style group tutoring can offer plenty of social and academic benefits.
The group advantage
Drop by the Causeway Bay or Kwun Tong centres of BartyED during the week and you might uncover a small clutch of teens debating the merits of Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby, or if The Lion King really was inspired by Hamlet.
At these centres, groups of smart kids gather weekly to help hone their writing skills, better understand English literature texts and feel prepared for success in the critical thinking tasks they’ll tackle in the IBDP, not to mention in the years that follow at university. You’ll also see them enjoying learning, gaining academic confidence and establishing a social network of like-minded peers away from school.
Jerome and his team lead these intimate study groups for select students. “Our group sessions offer university-style instruction, so they attract students with a degree of motivation. Mostly, they’re aiming for above 40 on the IB Diploma and have a plan for a specific university”. According to Jerome, these are generally self-motivated students who want to be around others. “They find the group environment interesting and stimulating.”
Why it works
Students attending these small group sessions are able to study at their own pace. They often join a group with their personal study goals identified. At the beginning of each term, the students set learning goals and agree on the skills and content their group will focus on. This ensures that everyone’s needs are met and they are engaged with their group’s learning.
In these weekly – or sometimes more frequent – sessions, teens work on critical thinking skills, explore complementary course content and refine their formal writing skills by practicing essay writing.
University-style instruction sees students assigned readings or other stimulus materials to consume between sessions. The aim is to join in the weekly discussion and complete writing tasks set to better prepare students for IBDP assessments.
Fun in a group
However, it’s not all serious study! The students also find respite from the academic rigours of their final years in these weekly sessions. A social camaraderie is established between students and encouraged by tutors. What’s more, the tutors ensure a sense of ownership is fostered both in the course content and the group’s social dynamic. Students can even choose to close their particular group to newcomers, if they decide that the dynamic is just right for them!
5 benefits of group study
Learning with peers in this kind of environment can help students to …
- practice university tutorial learning format;
- establish and evolve formal writing skills;
- socialise with other motivated students;
- learn to receive and action constructive criticism; and
- take control of learning and explore additional, beneficial content.
About the tutors
Jerome says that all BartyED tutors are passionate about their topics. They have Masters degrees in Philosophy, English and other specialist areas – and they delight in teaching motivated students.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.