My first class at UT was held in a spacious lecture hall with 187 students. The professor suggested we get acquainted with classmates sitting near us and even get their contact information as a precautionary measure in the event that a student missed a class or wanted to study with someone.
Although I was in a room packed with other students, I was too shy to ask for anyone’s contact information. As midterms drew near, I realized I wanted to study with someone in my class. However, I was left with no way of reaching out to classmates and setting up a study session.
Although UT has made many technological advancements, especially during the pandemic, they have yet to help students create study groups in their class sections. UT must create an online platform to address this issue.
English freshman Molly Wilkinson expressed interest in being able to set up study groups through this new platform.
“I don’t really have the contact information of anyone in my classes,” Wilkinson said. “Even in my small classes, I don’t reach out and ask them (for contact information), and there’s nowhere on Canvas to set up anything like that. … I have people that I could study with, but not a lot of them have classes in common with me.”
The proposed platform would bring students closer to classmates and academic success. Many students are stuck studying alone, unable to verify their understanding of lecture material with a peer. Instead of forcing students to struggle through difficult course content alone, the proposed platform would allow them to advertise study sessions in their class section through Canvas, allowing other students in the section to sign up and join the study group.
While students want a platform that helps them collaborate and succeed academically, the University appears to be stuck in the past.
Veronica Trevino, financial and administrative services media manager at the University, explained in an email that UT doesn’t have a platform dedicated to setting up student study sessions and encourages students to rely on other tools.
“Although at this time there is not a campus platform dedicated solely to study group connections, there are currently University-supported tools available, including Zoom and Microsoft Teams,” Trevino said. “We also encourage students to talk to their instructor who can help coordinate the sign-up process, meeting times and platforms.”
Students are left to create a solution for the University’s shortcomings. Like me, other students might be shy or hesitant to give out personal contact information to a stranger.
In the past, students have made GroupMe chats for their classes. While it’s great that students have gotten creative, the messaging platform has proven to be problematic. Two years ago, approximately 70 students in a class section at UT were nearly expelled for simply being in a chat where certain students were accused of cheating, regardless of if they had participated. Naturally, students would be hesitant to use a platform associated with a cheating scandal.
The University doesn’t have direct control over what happens on GroupMe. However, under the proposed platform, UT would be able to monitor potentially dishonorable activity and identify and punish those involved in cheating and ensure that innocent students are not punished.
Upholding academic integrity, accommodating students and giving them additional collaborative study opportunities are a few benefits of the proposed platform. While the University has made strides to ensure that most classes can be done online, they must accommodate students studying outside of the classroom as well.
Lazenby is an economics junior from Chicago, Illinois.