Overcoming Barriers to Peer Study: Local Entrepreneurs Launch “WeStudee” at Goodwin College

StartUp Weekend: Education, sponsored by UP Connecticut in Hartford in September 2014, presented a bold premise to its participants: transform your ideas related to education into action; find the right people with the skills and passion to build an education product in one weekend; receive coaching from education designers and industry professionals who will advise you on taking your idea to the next level.

And so it was that WeStudee was born. The brainchild of Pi Areepipatkul, Darcie Binder, John Clay, Jr., Alex Garcia, Derrick Karle, Yuya Jeremy Ong, Ye (April) Ji Park, Ashwin Raghavan, Adam Stankiewicz, Duong Vu, and Joel Whipple, WeStudee is an online tool that helps students find study partners among their classmates, matching them on criteria that includes current courses, available study times, and other preferences.

Physical, socio-economic, institutional, and psychological barriers that make it hard to find study partners can adversely impact effective peer-to-peer studying. One of WeStudee’s goals is to focus on common factors that bring students together into successful study groups.

Over the course of the StartUp Weekend, the WeStudee team members brainstormed and refined their ideas — and placed first in the competition. As luck would have it, Goodwin College president Mark Schienberg was one of the judges and saw a potential fit for WeStudee with Goodwin students.

“Many of our students juggle an incredible amount of commitments in addition to their studies — families, jobs, proximity to campus,” he explained. “WeStudee seemed like a great way they could benefit from peer-to-peer studying on their own terms and in ways that help alleviate obstacles. And, of course, Goodwin is always looking to encourage entrepreneurship, especially in education.”

Scheinberg offered the team the opportunity to implement WeStudee at Goodwin College. They solicited input from Goodwin faculty and staff, then worked with them to finalize WeStudee and make it available for students to use at the beginning of the 2015 summer session.

“We’re just now at the beginning of the implementation process,” offered Eric Emet, Goodwin’s Director of Student Retention, “but our faculty members are already excited about introducing this new opportunity to their students. The potential is great, and we’re looking forward to adding WeStudee to our wide range of student support services.”

“We worked with Goodwin students to develop the initial WeStudee product through feedback from focus groups, student surveys, and student product testing,” adds Joel Whipple of the WeStudee team. “The entire Goodwin community has embraced WeStudee, and we are looking to forward to the next step: helping students connect with their peers and engage with classmates to improve their grades.”