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Studying with Others

Maximize your learning by connecting with peers through the Student Success Centre

Connect your Academics with your Community

Working with others is a common component of many university classes. This can include things like group projects, formal study groups, or simply asking a classmate about a missed lecture. Connecting with peers, teaching assistants, and professors is a great opportunity to get the most out of your university experience.  

Below, you will find a variety of blogs, videos, tip sheets, and worksheets to add to your time management tool kit. You can use blogs, videos, and tip sheets to gain more information on a topic or strategy. You can practice applying these strategies to your own context by using the worksheets. To save your worksheet progress, review our instructions on how to use a PDF.   

Working in Groups

Three students stand together in front of a backdrop of oversized books. The students are holding books and smiling

Making a study group is a great way to stay motivated and connect with classmates. Study groups can also help you establish a routine and test drive different study practices. When starting a study group, you’ll have to consider how you’ll find members, how you’ll meet and communicate with one another, and what guidelines to set in place to ensure there are no issues with academic integrity.

Given the variety of schedules and modes of class delivery, your study group may choose to meet online. For strategies to help you make the most of your group's time, watch our Studying Online with Others video. If you're new to Zoom, it may be helpful to watch our How to Use Zoom for Groupwork video tutorial. 

Interested in earning a microcredential while setting up a study group? Explor our Academic Skills badges and Writing Skill badges to learn more. 

Connecting with classmates online is nothing new. There are a number of reasons you and your group mates might prefer to meet virtually, perhaps you have schedules that don’t allow you to overlap much, or a long commute preventing you from making it to campus at a particular time. There are a number of ways you can continue to connect with classmates conveniently, effectively, and without academic integrity issues. For more suggestions, check out our Four Steps for Working in Groups Online blog

Working in groups can be a great way to meet other students, especially in courses outside of your usual discipline. Group projects can also help deepen your understanding of a topic as you discuss different aspects with your peers. Working in groups can also be challenging when groupmates are unclear on expectations or have different working methods. For suggestions on how you can set expectations early on, read our Setting Up Successful Group Work blog or Organizing a Study Group Tip Sheet. You can also watch our Online Groupwork video for more insights. For advice on troubleshooting groupwork issues, read our Tips for Common Group Work Issues blog

Video conferencing can be a convenient way to connect with group members in real time. While there are many video conferencing tools out there, Zoom is a platform that is available to you as a student through the University of Calgary. Zoom allows you to create share screens with each, work on a shared whiteboard and break out into smaller groups within your study group.  

Learn how to create a meeting and invite your peers using Zoom with these resources from the Taylor Institute of Teaching and Learning 

Chat platforms such as Discord, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp or Slack, typically allow instant messaging and content sharing. Some platforms also provide video conferencing as well. While these tools can help your study group stay connected, chat platforms are often used in casual settings outside of academics and can allow for anonymity. This can sometimes make it more difficult to maintain a positive learning environment or avoid issues with academic integrity. For these reasons, your study group might want to consider the recommendations below.

Recommendations for using chat platforms 

  • If possible, allocate an administrator(s) who is responsible for verifying group members
  • Verify group members by requesting that students join using their UCalgary email
  • Consider limiting the number of group study members to ensure that group members get to know each other
  • Post group guidelines for communicating and working together on the channel (see above Establishing study group guidelines)
  • Talk to your instructor to be sure you understand what collaborative learning activities are permitted to avoid academic integrity concerns and include this information in your posting guidelines
  • Consider using a chat platform that allows you to block posts during the exam period (e.g. Discord) to prevent any potential issues with academic misconduct

File sharing platforms can provide your study group with a digital location to store content and work collaboratively on documents. All students have access to Office 365, and its full suite of apps including One Drive, which allows you to access files from anywhere and also share them with study group members. You may also come across commercial file sharing platforms such as Chegg, Course Hero, OneClass or Thinkswap. These sites tend to share course materials that are submitted by students. While file sharing platforms are a great tool for collaborative learning, copyright and academic integrity issues can arise when students share materials that are owned by the university (instructor material such as course outlines, course resources and exam questions). Below is some helpful information for what to consider when posting or accessing course related materials.

Recommendations for file sharing platforms

  • If you are considering posting an instructor’s course materials, you must have instructor permission to do so. Posting these materials without instructor permission is a violation of the Copyright policy.
  • Posting or retrieving assignment or exam solutions is considered an academic misconduct violation.
  • Commercial websites such as Chegg, do have honour codes and can work closely with universities to identify students who have violated these guidelines.

Ethical and Effective Study Groups


Collaborative work allows students to explore concepts in much greater depth than what would be possible individually. Studying collaboratively differs from unauthorized assistance. Unauthorized Assistance is defined by the UCalgary Student Academic Misconduct Policy as cooperating, collaborating, or otherwise giving or receiving assistance in completing Academic Activities without the Instructor’s permission.

This policy ensures that students’ submitted academic work demonstrates their own academic ability. This section provides some recommendations and additional information to support your study group in maintaining academic integrity and distinguishing group study from unauthorized assistance

Understanding how to avoid issues of unauthorized assistance while working in study groups is essential for your group to maintain academic integrity. Below are some examples of unauthorized assistance that can occur in study groups.

Borrowing a study group member’s assignment to see how they structured it or showing another study group member your essay before the assignment is due.

If you view another study group members assignment is very likely that you will be influenced by what they wrote and may accidently incorporate elements of their structure, ideas, wording, etc. into your own work. Your instructor will be able to spot pieces of work that are similar. Remember that helping another student to commit an offence by letting them see your work is also an academic misconduct violation.

Working with a study group to complete an individual assignment.

It is useful to discuss the assignment requirements with your study group but take care if ideas are being swapped and content of the assignment being discussed. This could accidently result in the whole study group submitting a similar assignment with the same ideas, writing style etc. Your instructor will be able to spot this.

Using a file sharing website to access completed assessments.

When assignments are being discussed in your study group it is tempting to look up ideas online. In some cases, you will be able to find completed assignments from previous years or solutions to problems online. This is classed as unauthorized assistance. Have clear guidelines in place for your study group to stop members from sharing the content from these file sharing websites (such as Chegg or CourseHero).

Using Word's track changes in a study group members essay to rewrite sentences and explain ideas.

While it can be useful to have another study group member check your assignment for spelling mistakes and grammar, remember that any additional contribution by them, such as amending your paragraphs, making additions and deletions or rewriting sections of your work, is considered unauthorized assistance. Be clear when asking someone to peer assess your work and check with your instructor that such practice is allowed.

Unauthorized assistance is frequently the result of good intentions and trying to help a friend in need. Sometimes simple conversation while writing your assignments could lead to accidental idea sharing. The best way to avoid accidental unauthorized assistance and help those in your study group is to:

  • Help them to understand the material by discussing the concepts in general. The is an ideal goal of study groups, to cover material in the lecture that other members are struggling with. That was content is review and understood soon after the lecture and any group member can then decide to speak with the instructor and not leave it until the assignment is due.
  • Encourage others to get help from the Instructor or TA if they are having difficulty with an assignment as soon as possible.
  • Avoid sitting next to or chatting online with your study group members and discussing ideas when you are all working on the same assignment. This is how ideas get swapped too freely and the owner of the idea is difficult to establish. This usually results in the group members producing very similar work that the instructor will notice.
  • Compare feedback after the assessment has been marked. Looking at each other's assignments after they have been marked is a valuable strategy for identifying areas of good practice in order to improve your own work. Consider bringing along your marked work, sharing your positive feedback and the areas you need to improve. For those courses where assignments build on each other, this strategy could lead to ideas being swapped and submitted. Check with your instructor if you are unsure.
  • Tell your study group about the supports and resources available at the Student Success Centre. Perhaps the study group could attend together, or one member could attend a workshop and report back to the group. Encourage each other to visit writing support or attend one of the writing communities.

Troubleshooting Group Study Issues


Despite clear guidelines for the study group there might be times where another group member suggests something that goes against those guidelines. In some instances, the suggestion may ask group members to participate in a practice that would be considered academic misconduct.

This could include: asking a group member to see their work, sharing their work with the group, asking to divide up an individual assignment between the group or asking another member to complete their work for them. These conversations can be uncomfortable to have, especially when the group member is stressed or anxious having left the assignment to the last minute.

Look for suggestions on how to address these particular situations in the Study Group Scenarios tipsheet.

If you are the target of or witness disrespectful behaviour in a study group – whether in person or online - there are multiple ways you can address the concerning behaviour. Here are some approaches that you can take:  

  • Call them in: Depending on your relationship with the person, you could speak with them privately and explain your concern. It might even sound like, “I know you want our group to succeed, but when you get angry during meetings, it makes it harder for everyone to focus.”   Let them know that their behaviour is distracting, hurtful or inappropriate, and ask them to stop. Sometimes a conversation with a peer is all it takes for someone to realize it’s not okay.  
  • Set boundaries: You should feel comfortable and safe among your peers at university. Set boundaries for what kinds of behaviour you are comfortable with, and what you’re not. Communicate those boundaries to others using the WIN model - “When you...I feel...I need”.  
  • Check-in with the affected person: If the problematic behaviour is directed at one of your peers, check to see whether they’re ok. If you feel comfortable, let them know about options for reporting and/or getting help.  
  • Document the incident: If the behaviour is ongoing, unknown to the instructor and/or would require evidence to prove, take screenshots and/or make a note about what you witnessed.  
  • Report the incident: If you feel that the behaviour of others has violated the University’s policies, report the incident (including screenshots) to the Student Conduct Office. 

To learn more about addressing problematic behaviour and conflict more broadly in a study group, please visit the “What should I do if our group experiences conflict?” section of this resource.

Conflict is a natural part of working with others. Sometimes group members may have different ideas for how to accomplish a goal. Research shows that groups that are able to engage in this type of conflict respectfully and constructively actually have better outcomes! However, when a conflict becomes personal, it can be destructive if not managed effectively.  

  • Have a conversation at the beginning of your work together about how you will resolve any conflicts that come up. Use your discussion on study group guidelines to clarify everyone’s expectations and preferences when it comes to conflict.  
  • If someone in your group is frustrating you, reflect on why this is, and try to understand where they’re coming from. Identity what you would like them to do differently. If you think it’s a reasonable request, approach them respectfully to talk about it.  
  • It might be tempting to speak to your other group members about your frustrations, but gossip and back-channeling can make even the best groups dysfunctional. If you need to talk to someone else about the conflict you’re experiencing, consider asking a neutral friend who is not in the group for some help, or talking to a staff member.  
  • Try to address issues early rather than letting them escalate over time, and whenever possible, speak with others directly and in-person (or on video) rather than in-writing.  

If you would like further guidance on how to address conflict or problematic behaviour in a study group, please visit the resources section of the Student Conduct Office website. The resources include tips on how to manage conflict online, call in, set boundaries, and apologize.   

The Student Conduct Office also regularly offers several workshops and one-on-one trainings, which students are welcome to register for. These initiatives include: 

  • One-on-One Conflict Coaching 
  • Bystander Intervention Training  
  • The Comments Section: Addressing Online Harassment  
  • Conflict Management 101  
  • Understanding Anger  

Learn more about Student Conduct training opportunities.

Connecting with Instructors

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Attending instructor’s office hours can be daunting at first, however, connecting with your instructors early and on a regular basis can be an excellent tool for success. Office hours can be used to clarify course content, get to know your instructors more directly,  gain insight into the instructor’s field of study. If you’re considering the different paths  you can take as you progress through your degree, these insights can help guide your  decisions and influence your academic and career goals. For a student’s perspective on  the importance of office hours, check out our Why You Should Go to Office Hours blog. If you’re  wondering why instructors strongly recommend you attend office hours, check out our Connecting with Instructors during Office Hours blog. To help you prepare for your next trip to office hours, use our Attending Office Hours worksheet.


What Else Should I Know?

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The Student Success Centre’s PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) program helps you improve your comprehension and academic performance through free, organized study groups for PASS designated courses. Through supplemental instruction, PASS Leaders can help you with course content through directed group discussion in a course-specific context. PASS will help you succeed academically in your course by offering alternative approaches to course material. You get as much out of a PASS seminar as you put in: if you collaborate, answer questions, and work with others, you will learn a lot and probably make a few friends too! 

Maintaining academic integrity while earning your degree represents your true academic accomplishments. Many students have questions about what exactly academic integrity really means and how to avoid it. We know that this is very big concept, so rest assured that there are many ways to learn more about it. Visit our Academic Integrity webpage for a selection of workshops, definitions, and tip sheets to help deepen your understanding.  

Wondering how to know how much collaboration is allowed? Only the instructor can determine what (if any) level of collaboration for assessments is permitted within a course. Remember that this may be different for each assessment in the same course and across the different faculties. If you are unsure, always ask the instructor for clarification.


With classes and some student services taking place both online and in person, you may find yourself on campus and in need of a space to attend a lecture or an appointment. For an overview of the different study spaces on campus, access our Where Can I Study On Campus tip sheet

The University has created a study space map that indicates the location and capacity of different study spaces around campus. Check back with this map throughout the semester for updates to available study spaces. 

If you're new to campus or need help navigating campus, try accessing the Interactive Campus Room Finder or the Self Guided Campus Tour.

Are you looking for in-depth training on foundational learning strategies? Do you want to host a study group, but aren't sure what skills are necessary for the task? Consider completing an Academic Skills Badge through our Digital Badge program. 

A digital badge is a form of micro-credential that can be used to keep track of the competencies and knowledge you've acquired. They can be used to show your peers or potential employers that you're proficient or certified in a specific skill.