Focus on Study Groups: Helping the Wilmette Institute Provide Better Help and Helping You Plan More of Them

A new service that the Wilmette Institute plans to offer in 2019 is more help for study groups and study-group leaders. In late December the Institute’s registration staff began reaching out, through a survey, to everyone who has been a primary registrant for a study group and hopes, through this article, to reach even more participants in study groups.

Through the survey the Wilmette Institute staff hopes to learn from the experiences of study-group participants—positive or negative. The Institute asks that you give it five minutes (or less) of your time to take the short survey about study groups. Your responses will remain anonymous, with only selected Wilmette Institute staff having access to the survey results.

The survey’s cover letter provides information about the purpose of the survey: learning what kind of support would be most helpful.

Survey Question No. 6 gives you a chance to comment on your experiences and also to ask questions. In particular, we would like to know whether you had a faculty member join any group session by videoconference and how that benefited you (or not!). Do you think being part of a group helped you get through more of the material? Did your study group meet locally, or was it dispersed with meetings by videoconference? If you prefer to respond by email, please send feedback to this email address:

In Survey Question No. 8, if you provide your contact details, we will email you to respond to your feedback, provide a summary of the results of the survey, and, depending on how many respondents provide feedback on their experiences, invite you to participate (by phone or video conference) in a focus group of Wilmette Institute friends dedicated to learning about the functioning of study groups and supporting new groups as they form.

Please feel free to share the link to the survey with friends who may be interested in studying Wilmette Institute courses in a group or being a group leader. The survey will close on February 1, 2019.

Statistics for 2017 and 2018 Study Groups. During 2017 and 2018, the Wilmette Institute registered 273 study groups with 262 study-group leaders (11 leaders have started more than one study group). The Department of Marriage and Family, at 117 study groups, took the lead. The Wilmette Institute’s other departments and independent sections combined registered 156 study groups, which ranked as follows:

  • Social Transformation – 52
  • Religion, Philosophy, and Theology – 41
  • Bahá’í History and Texts – 26
  • The Arts and Writing – 20
  • Bahá’í Community and Administration – 16

Thank You (in Advance) for Helping the Wilmette Institute Support You. After the study-group survey closes on February 1, the Wilmette Institute staff will analyze the respondents’ answers, hoping to learn more about the kinds of support that would be helpful to study groups. The Institute will then be able to provide more support to study groups and study-group leaders. That, in turn, may increase the number of groups studying together.

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