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Effectiveness of student wiki tested in GIRs

Crosslinks, a student resource “authored by MIT student for MIT students,” is running an experiment within GIR classes to find out how students interact with online material to achieve learning goals.

The experiment aims to determine how students think about concepts when applying them and how to better improve Crosslinks to help students learn. According to the Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES), Crosslinks is the first and only group to conduct this kind of cross-cutting experiment across the Institute.

Crosslinks “sets the stage for how we think about modularity,” Crosslinks researcher Luwen Huang ’11 said. “No one has ever looked at fine-grained topics across all of MIT, much less try to connect them, or put interactive exercises for each one showing what students are expected to do.”

Crosslinks is a student-made wiki of various topics that undergraduates learn at MIT. It currently covers seven courses and over 300 topics such as eigenvectors, Fourier series, and RNA splicing. Crosslinks is set up such that students can easily navigate between topics on the site and to various useful external links. In addition to providing materials and interactive exercises for each lesson, Crosslinks also links students to prerequisites necessary for the subject, closely related topics, succeeding lessons that come after the topic, and various real-life applications of the topic.

Crosslinks was started by aeronautics and astronautics professor Karen E. Wilcox and mathematics professor Haynes R. Miller in response to the observation that students frequently forgot prerequisite topics and did not make connections between the topics they were learning. It started as a UROP several years ago, and the Crosslinks site launched last spring.

—Adrian Sy