Study Smart: Using Formative Assessments to Create Personalized Study Materials

COIL is proud to have supported the Study Smart: Using Formative Assessments to Create Personalized Study Materials project through our Research Initiation Grant Program.


In a large course, it is difficult for a single instructor (or even a team of instructors and teaching assistants) to pinpoint each student’s level of mastery of each learning goal at various points in the semester. The proposed innovation, called Study Smart, is a system designed for both instructors and students. Instructors can see each student’s level of mastery on each learning goal throughout the semester, allowing the instructor to intervene with specific students who might be struggling. Students can see how well they are doing on each learning goal, based on how they scored on formative assessments. With the ability to measure mastery at the learning goal level in close-to-real-time, the second part of this project is to develop a system that provides personalized study guides for each student before each exam, based on attendance, interaction patterns to relevant course materials, and performance on formative assessments (such as quizzes, homework, iClicker questions and Just in Time Teaching essays).


  • William Goffe, Senior Lecturer, Economics, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Tsan-Kuang Lee, Lead Developer, TLT Studio
  • Bart Pursel, Faculty Programs Coordinator, Teaching and Learning with Technology
  • Simon Hooper, Professor, Department of Learning and Performance Systems
  • Eric Loken, Research Associate Professor, Human Development
  • Gi Woong (Josh) Choi, Graduate Student, College of Education
  • Megan Kohler, Instructional Designer, Education Technology Services


Bill Goffe Headshot


William Goffe
Senior Lecturer
304 Kern
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 867-3299





  1. Jeff Rankinen

    First of all, I think you have a good start on a great idea. I have three questions:
    1. Referring to your Initial Results,, were the students given a choice to use Study Smart? One thing that is frustrating for me is that many times only the better students take advantage of extra learning resources. I’m wondering if better comparison results would be obtained if students were randomly chosen to use Study Smart.
    2. Have you worked on the personalized study guides part of your project?
    3. Have you considered using artificial intelligence in any part of your project?


  2. Bill Goffe

    1. In a later study we’re looking at randomly giving students access to Study Smart. I agree that better students are likely to use various study aids. 2. Other than giving students feedback, we haven’t done work on the rest. 3. We have not — that seems like a large leap from what we’re currently doing. Finally, thanks for the questions and feel free to follow-up via e-mail at if you’d like.


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