Learner Engagement: Forming Student Groups


Student groups create opportunities for collaboration, which is a useful skill inside and outside of class. Students can bring their unique perspectives into a collective and produce results they could not achieve. This guide helps highlight key considerations and techniques for forming student groups.


Forming the study groups:

  • Manually organize and create student groups using a Google Sheet or Excel Spreadsheet, post groups to Brightspace, and send an Announcement.
  • Post a Google Form (like this example) in your Brightspace. Instruct students to fill out the form by a specific date.
    • Consider either:
      • Make results visible to peers and ask students to form groups based on the results.
      • Hide the results and form groups based on results you think will make the best working groups (e.g. similar preferred study time, etc)


  • Group size:
    • 3 - 5 is recommended for supporting each member's contributions and schedules.
  • Preparation:
    • Consider a brainstorming activity with the whole class. Ask students what makes a group successful.
      • For example, bring questions and notes to each group meeting.
  • Guide students early in their group formation with a document to fill out/  You can require the document’s submission by each member in a Brightspace Assignment.
  • Key attributes for efficient groups are:
    • Ground Rules 
      • Recommend that groups first create ground rules. 
      • Be respectful of everyone’s questions, names, and pronouns.
      • Consider going around and asking everyone if they have questions.
    • Location 
      • A quiet location held either in-person, Zoom, or alternates each week.
    • Schedule:
      • Establish a schedule to meet regularly. E.g. once a week for an hour or more.
    • Communication:
      • Share each other’s emails and/or phone numbers for group messages. This way information can be shared quickly, e.g. someone cannot make the session, the study location changed, etc.
    • Roles:
      • Recommend roles the leader, note-taking, facilitator, time-keeper, and devil’s advocate.
    • Review/Reflection 
      • Reserve time (5 - 10 minutes) at the end to review/summarize/wrap up.



  • Shaw, D. M. (2011). Promoting professional student learning through study groups: A case study. College Teaching, 59, 85-92.


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