Courtesy of Jacob Dunefsky

Last Thursday, many undergraduate students received an email from STUDYUP linking them to a newly launched website designed by WebCitz that aims to organize study groups among classmates. But the email was not sent to all students, and for many, the link was broken, although it has since been remedied through a second email.

Jacob Dunefsky ’24 was inspired to create the platform after taking remote classes in the fall of 2020. Students can log into STUDYUP with their NetID, sign up for courses on the platform and form study groups for those courses with other STUDYUP members. Following its initial roll-out last week, the website currently has over 170 users with 21 study groups already formed.

After logging in and selecting courses, students are sorted into premade study groups and can name their groups, suggest a time and place for their group to meet, vote on these suggestions and write messages in their group feed.

“It’s easier than having to turn to someone you don’t know in a big lecture,” Dunefsky said in an interview with the News. “It’s just something that helps people connect.”

During the fall of 2020, most sophomores studied remotely, and for Dunefsky, creating study groups for his classes was a difficult task. Some courses offered to organize groups for students, but this was not standardized across all of his classes. Dunefsky found that informal class group chats posed issues with accessibility in terms of knowing where to find study groups, deciding meeting times and keeping in consistent contact — issues he hopes STUDYUP will remedy.

Hongyi Shen ’24 began conducting user research surveys on a potential study group website in the fall of 2020 when CourseTable, a website operated by the Yale Computer Society to facilitate looking for classes, solicited user feedback for new features. CourseTable’s Design Lead, Michelle Li ’23, connected Shen with Dunefsky in March 2021. Dunefsky used Shen’s data on how professors preferred to incorporate a study group website, strategies to ensure that study groups stay connected and viable website designs to refine STUDYUP.

While the pandemic provides ample reason for students to utilize this platform, Shen noted that the idea started before the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of the website even during in-person classes. She cited one piece of feedback she had received from a student-athlete who found it difficult to work with other students due to their training schedule.

“The impulse for creating a [study group] website like this started in fall 2019,” Shen said. “Even in the user interviews, it’s not just a pandemic problem. I think the pandemic exacerbates it.”

Dunefsky also hopes that the website will serve students as a resource to “streamline” the process of creating a study group even after the pandemic ends.

Yuhan Kim ’24 was recruited by Dunefsky for user testing on the site in February as the project’s development neared completion.

“I hope that this will be a useful tool for many Yale students to use in forming study groups and getting to know their classmates better,” Kim said.

According to the website, STUDYUP is a platform not only for students to work together but also to connect with classmates who they may not have met otherwise.

Following the initial email problem regarding an incorrect link, Dunefsky sent another email on Friday morning with the right link.

“We have gotten a good number of users despite the link problem,” Dunefsky said on Friday, prior to sending that email to undergraduate students. “It’s not fun sending an email to like 6,600 people.”

In the 24 hours after Dunefsky sent the corrected link, the greatest number of students signed up for study groups in ECON 116, “Introductory Macroeconomics” and CPSC 323, “Introduction to Systems Programming and Computer Organization.”

Hamera Shabbir covers golf and fencing for the Sports desk and the School of the Environment for the Science and Technology desk. Originally from California's Central Valley, she is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in Environmental Studies.