Information about FSGs for Instructors

Facilitated Study Groups (FSGs) are co-curricular study sessions designed to provide students in participating UTSC courses with an opportunity for regular review of and practice with their course material. They begin in the second week of a semester and run until the last week of classes.  Students who regularly attend FSGs learn effective strategies for learning course material and improving their study habits and techniques.
 
FSGs are led by facilitators who are students who have done well in the class previously, and have been trained by CTL in collaborative learning techniques and study skills. These facilitators will attend all lectures and then structure weekly study group sessions in a way that will engage students in active learning of the course material and help them develop metacognitive awareness of their individual learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses. 
 
Costs for study groups are covered by CTL. If you are interested in having FSGs for your course, or would like to discuss whether FSGs are appropriate for your course, please feel free to contact Cindy Bongard, Peer Facilitation Strategist, bongard@utsc.utoronto.ca

FAQ

How are FSGS different from other UTSC resources, such as tutorials or aid centres?

Facilitators do not re-lecture, explain course content, or tutor students on the subject matter.  Instead, facilitators focus on helping students become independent learners by planning activities that encourage them to work together to process course material themselves.  In study sessions, students will do various activities that will help them think through course material and prepare for exams. This might include creating flash cards and quizzing each other, filling in worksheets, learning new methods for taking lecture notes, and so on.

Are FSGs right for my class?

FSGs work best with difficult courses with a high rate of Ds, Fs, and Withdrawals.  FSGs have also worked well in large courses where students have little opportunity to interact with each other.  If you think one of the courses you will be teaching is a good candidate for FSGs, or would like to discuss this further, please contact Cindy Bongard, Peer Facilitation Strategist, [bongard@utsc.utoronto.ca]  

What do I have to do to have FSGs added to my class?

Contact us with a brief note identifying the class that you would like to have FSGs added to.  If FSGs are added to your class, here are a few other things I will ask you to do: Recommend students who have successfully completed your class(es) and who you think would do well as facilitators. Provide brief periods of time in lecture for the facilitators to introduce themselves and make semi-regular announcements about the schedule and activities of upcoming FSGs Give the facilitator(s) (or me) access to your course Blackboard to post the FSG schedule for your class and make announcements.  

Should I require my students to attend FSGs or reward them with grades for doing so?

In a word, no.  While FSGs  will be much more successful if you encourage students to attend, 'forced attendance' could actually be counterproductive, as students will sometimes attend for the wrong reasons, making it much more difficult for the facilitator to engage students in productive study.  Also, one of the primary aims of FSGs is to give students a safe space, where they are not subject to any evaluation or assessment, so that they may feel free to air their confusions and test out new approaches to learning.

Do FSGs help?

Yes!  FSGs are based on a model developed at University of Missouri - Kansas City in 1973 and there is substantial evidence indicating that this approach to study groups reduces attrition and improves grades. Although there is substantial variation between the different classes, we have seen that this is also true here at UTSC.  For example, in one course, attrition for students who didn’t participate in FSGs was 27%, while for FSG participants it was 7% (calculated as percentage of group).  And while this result may partially be explained by higher motivation levels in participants, students also report that the FSGs give them the support they need to complete the course.