# Study groups
Discussing texts with others is a good way to engage actively with a text. You are likely to read more attentively if you are planning to discuss the text. Discussions also let you practise applying concepts and articulating arguments.
Efficient groupwork needs planning: Plan in advance; agree on a topic and text(s) to discuss, and assign different texts or portions of text to different members of the group. Each person is responsible for presenting their material to the rest of the group. By taking turns, all group members will practice oral skills such as presenting, explaining and commenting relevant material. Even though unstructured group work can also be rewarding, they are less likely to edure in the long run.
Forming a group early in your studies will give you a kickstart. You may begin to read and discuss course readings. Once you start writing assignments, you may be each others’ readers. Comments from fellow students can be very useful.
# Writing groups
The writing of longer assignments and theses requires a steady work process. To keep the process going, inviting readers can be very helpful. Commitments are helpful for keeping deadlines, and in addition your will find out how your work communicates with a reader. As a member of a writing group, you can submit drafts, give and receive feedback and find support in a community of students. The writing group is a supplement, not a replacement for your supervisor. Ideally a writing group is a group of students from the same discpipline subject who are at different writing stages. If you already have a reading group that works well, use it!
The PhD students Kajsa Parding and Sandhya Tiwari at UiB have greatly enjoyed their writing group in the final phase of their doctoral work:
# Response groups: How to give and receive feedback?
Sharing feedback is an effective way to develop as a writer. Sometimes giving feedback can be just as helpful as receiving it - because you learn a lot by analyzing other people’s texts and putting what you observe into words.
The texts that are shared can be more or less completed. We recommend to share drafts that can be revised and improved after feedback.
When sharing a draft with your writing group:
- Inform your readers what type of text it is, and where it fits in the larger contect.
- Think carefully about what you would like to receive feedback on at this stage, and request the response you need.
When giving feedback, observe the following:
- Read the text in advance
- Prepare and formulate your comments in writing
- Start with what you perceive to be the main message
- Be positive. There is always something good in a text that the author can further develop. Comment what you think the author has succeeded in and why it works. Unspecified praise is of no use.
- If something is perceived as unclear, ask if it could have been formulated in a different way instead of just criticizing.
- Remember that sharing a draft with others can be a big step to take for your fellow student, so read well and thoroughly, and give constructive comments.
Good feedback is concrete, constructive and friendly.
When receiving feedback
- Ask for feedback that is appropriate for the stage you are at (idea phase, discussion or editing phase).
- Be receptive and open: Your fellow group members have set aside time and tried to understand your text.
- Listen carefully and make notes of the comments instead of arguing or defending yourself. Even if you do not agree with the comments, they reflect a reading experience that you can take into account in the further work. The new draft will be your answer.
- A text can always be better. When your text is read by others, you may find new perspectives and possibilities in your text.
- You decide over your text. Pay attention to the comments you think are relevant, and ignore the rest.
Arrange to meet regularly, and always meet prepared. As member of a writing group, you have invaluable help throughout the writing process. And when the submission is due, you know where to turn for a final reading.
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