Lifelong Learning

Study Group Guidelines

Purpose
The purpose of the NIU Lifelong Leaning Institute is to pursue the pleasures of study and the exchange of ideas through active participation in peer-led study groups. Each study group member holds the key to success in this mutual search for knowledge.

Study Group Member Responsibilities
The study group members share the responsibility for the success of the group through active participation.

Before each session:
1. Read or research facts carefully and purposefully.
2. Think about the ideas, arguments, theses, or views presented.
3. Make notes and identify questions you might want to explore.

During each session:
1. Speak clearly and freely.
2. Listen to the ideas and opinions of others.
3. Stick to the topic or issue under discussion.
4. Abstain from monopolizing or dominating the discussion.
5. Refrain from private or side discussions while someone else is speaking.

Study Group Convener Responsibilities
The volunteer convener is responsible for stimulating lively and orderly discussion.

Before each session:
1. Carefully read and research material related to discussion you will be presenting.
2. Identify the major points to stimulate discussion.
3. Prepare a series of open-ended questions to probe the content, meaning, and significance of the material.

During each session:
1. Ask open-ended or provocative questions to initiate discussion.
2. Use follow-up questions for deeper probing.
3. Encourage discussion among group members rather than a limited exchange of questions and answers between the leader and a member.
4. Encourage the exploration of differing points of view.
5. Encourage participants to support their arguments.
6. Keep the discussion on track, discourage digressions.
7. Allow good discussion to continue as long as the group’s interest is sustained.
8. Remain neutral, notwithstanding disagreements among members.
9. Strive to reach greater understanding rather than definitive answers.

Special thanks to the Roosevelt University Institute for Continued Learning for use of their study group discussion guidelines.