Evaluation of Student Facing Web-Based Services: Studyit (CORE Education)
The document provides a final service report on the Studyit website as part of a larger evaluation of web-based learning services for children and young people in New Zealand. The report is complemented by similar reports relating to the AnyQuestions and WickED websites.
Author(s): Ann Trewern & Derek Wenmoth
Date Published: August 2008
The bigger picture
Studyit is a web based ‘Question and Answer’ site that has a focus on providing students the opportunity for asynchronous ‘just in time’ interaction with an expert – in this case a secondary school mathematics or science teacher. As such Studyit is representative of a genre of online ‘help sites’ to support student learning such as Using English.com <http://www.usingenglish.com/> an international forum for English language learners and Sparknotes <http://www.sparknotes.com/> which offers study guides and interactive forums on subjects from math to chemistry as well preparation for the scholastic aptitude tests for entry to North American Colleges.
What is unique about Studyit is that it offers subject content and interactive forums that specifically relate to the NZ senior secondary syllabus and NCEA examinations for Science and Maths and more latterly English. It is this unique focus that provides the driving reasons for involvement by the core active group who use the site as part of a repertoire of tools for independent study that include class lessons, school notes, study guides, textbooks and friends. Studyit is very specific in intent and purpose and it appears that this specificity is what appeals to the current group of core active users as in illustrated in Table 29.
What is also unique about Studyit is that it encourages a participatory culture where participants believe that their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Studyit is a community that provides strong incentives for active participation through a communal problem solving approach.
Support for wider educational goals /landscape
Participating students make most use of the site from home and it is this point of connection between home and school – where students sit down and independently try to work through their homework assignment where Studyit, as a support service, comes into its own. Students use the resource as a just in time help for study. When they get stuck, they hop onto Studyit and post the question. This is regarded as extremely valuable by the students interviewed.
As one student said s/he finds Studyit of most use for help with maths and physics problems because unlike biology, for example, the text book doesn’t quite guide them through the problem starting point and assist with the process of solving the problem the way a person with expertise can. Other support for student learning that bridges home and school is listed in Table 30.
There was evidence uncovered that revealed some teachers were recommending and even using the site. Many students indicated that they found out about the site from a teacher. One teacher mentioned using Studyit in the following way,
- I print off the achievement criteria page of Studyit at the beginning of reaching each
- standard and photocopy for my class as it is easier for the students to understand
- than the standard on NZQA
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