Doing Homework with Friends
by Ron Kurtus (revised 18 May 2012)
They often say: "Two heads are better than one." Sometimes that can be true when doing your homework.
In some types of homework, collaborating or working with one or more fellow students can be an effective way to get things done and increase understanding.
Of course, this does not mean that each of you only does a part of the work—like splitting up the solving of math problems. Instead, it is working together to discuss the assignment and perhaps check over each other's work.
However, you should check with your teacher to make sure it is OK. Some teachers may prefer that you to work alone.
The biggest problem with doing homework or projects together is that it is so easy to start talking about other things. Also, some friends are better as friends than as study-mates. Thus, you should have a good plan of action for studying together.
Questions you may have include:
- Who can effectively use this method?
- Who is a good person to study with?
- What sort of plan should we have?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Check your best study method
You need to determine whether your personality and study methods would work well if you studied with another person.
Some students prefer to concentrate by themselves when they study. They need to focus on their work in order to get it done or to solve a problem. Disruptions from other people can break their train of thought and make it difficult to get back on track.
Other students are more social in their thinking and study styles. They like to play ideas off others and discuss things before putting it down on paper. These are the students who will do well in studying with friends or other students.
Of course, there is always the temptation to socialize more than to study. With a little planning you can enjoy the company of your friend and still get the homework assignment completed.
Instant messaging or texting
There is also a compromise to this method, where students will be studying alone but will interface through Instant Messaging, texting email, or the telephone.
Even the student who prefers to study alone may break his or her concentration to contact a friend and ask for some information.
Work and tests
Note that in the modern office workplace, many companies are emphasizing group projects. Those who prefer to work alone on projects often are told to work in a group.
But also note that students who like to work alone probably will do better in test situations that those who like to study in a social environment.
Know your study partner
It may seem obvious that you know with whom you are studying, but quite often you don't realize the other person's goals, abilities and methods until you start working with him or her. Some friends may be fun but may also inhibit your ability to finish your assignment.
Some only goof around
Some people just want to socialize and don't have a goal of really getting anything done. With such a study partner, you might end up not finishing your assignment.
Megan was Emily's best friend, so she when asked Emily to study together for the History exam, Emily jumped to the opportunity.
However, Megan had not kept up-to-date with her reading and kept asking Emily for information about various sections in the book. Emily felt short-changed in their study session.
Others may have nothing to contribute or may want you to do all the work for them. The person may be a friend, but who wants to always be doing someone else's work?
Although it is often fun to work on an assignment or project with others, you also must remember that you have a goal of getting the homework done and receiving a good grade on it.
You may need to be selective in finding a study-mate. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is by trial and error.
Plan your activity
When you study alone, you just do it. Perhaps you may set aside a specific time to do your work. However, when you study with friends, you need a definite plan of action concerning a time limit and how much socializing is allowed.
Set a time limit before you start
When you set a time limit on something, you usually will finish it within time. This is true for doing homework, too. Set a time limit to finish the assignment that you and your friend are working on.
For example, you could say, "Let's work together on the History assignment from 8 to 9 PM."
Then you could plan to do other things after the assignment is complete. Amazingly, when you set a time limit on work, you usually can finish it within that time.
Divide projects into parts
A good way of working together is to control the situation by alternating between serious work and conversation.
Divide your project into small parts and set a goal to complete each part, mixing in breaks for enjoyment. Also, setting time limits to complete various parts of your assignment helps to keep the mix of talk and work in the proper perspective.
Wrap it up on time
My feeling is that in any type of activity, when the time is up, you wrap it up. In other words, when you get near the end of a study session, you make quick decisions and finish everything up.
Try to never let loose ends dangle. Finish the job or the part of the task you had planned to finish.
You can work with friends on assignments to zip through your homework, provided you select good study-mates, you alternate between focused work and breaks and you complete the job in the allotted time.
Studying together is one of several strategies you can use to do well in school. See if it will help you become a top student.
Friends can help each other do well in school
Resources and references
Homework Helper - Lists of homework webistes for all levels from CollegeScholarships.org
Homeworkhelp.com - Provides some free lessons but also charges for better information
Questions and comments
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Doing Homework with Friends