Honors pre-calculus students create online study group as a new forum for test preparation and homework assistance.

By David Streicher ’13

As AP and IB tests draw closer to UAHS, students begin to buckle down with late night cram sessions, textbook re-readings and loads of coffee. One solution students can prepare with is study groups. Juniors Jane Guo and Megan Fisher—with the rest of math teacher Chris Bolognese’s Honors Precalculus class—have put a new spin on the traditional study group by tying it to an online Facebook group.

“Mr. B’s Awesome Honors Pre-calc Student Study Group” was formed by Guo and Fisher early this year to help their class prepare for its graded problem sets, tests, and daily homework problems. The group meets in-person on Saturdays after a graded set or test is announced, in addition to their daily online forum.
With social networking sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, Google+ and even UA Moodle causing competition for student attention, the choice of third-party Facebook may seem strange. However, Fisher says Facebook was the right choice to fit their class.
“Everyone was already [on Facebook],” Fisher said. “And we had [a] Facebook study group from last year in [math teacher Mike] Hunt’s class. So we just kind of graduated to a new one. It’s just a different forum.”
The advantage of this new forum is its ability to bring the class together online to keep them informed about class developments and problem strategies.
“Facebook allows us to have virtual ‘study sessions’ when we can’t get together at Market District to finish up the problems,” Guo said. “We also use Facebook to make announcements about upcoming important events.”
Fisher believes that the environment of a study group can help relieve study pressure.
“A lot of people like collaborative learning environments, and just getting together to do that kind of work,” she said.
But with the benefits of Facebook use another potential danger is added: file sharing. However, Fisher believes Facebook actually helps prevent file sharing more than encourage it.
“If you don’t have that medium where you can actually type out the question, it turns into, ‘Let me borrow that from you,’ as we pass each other in the hallway,” she said.
To assure Bolognese that the group is not a form of organized file sharing, Fisher and Guo invite him to the in-person meetings. Bolognese also shares their confidence.
“I want to give students the benefit of the doubt that such a vehicle of communication is used with academic responsibility,” Bolognese said. “I always promote to my students the necessity of meaningful and acceptable collaboration by asking thoughtful questions to one another and not merely copying a solution.”
Although the club does help students study, Bolognese believes that the real difference it has made hasn’t been in the form of improved grades, but increased student awareness.

“Students in general seem to be more aware of when assignments are due and what content was missed due to an absence,” he said. “Students also seem to have more of a communal spirit, willing to help each other voluntarily.”