New software lets students create mock tests

by David Hyland

Students trying to decipher the Constitution or get the lowdown on Freud’s theories will find a new ally in a computer study aid.
And if they act fast, students can find it for free.
A program, CyberStudy 101, is the focus of a demonstration and software giveaway from noon until 2 p.m. today at the Student Book Store.
“I designed a software product that allows students to put those notes in that they get from class and it generates a customized test,” said the program’s creator and Minneapolis resident, Carolyn Louper-Morris.
Experiences as a former political science professor at Ohio State and Atlanta University prompted Louper-Morris to develop the program to shore up student study skills.
Despite the software’s capabilities to aid studying, the program could give a boost to students with computers over students that have limited access.
According to a survey conducted last year by the University’s Office of Planning and Analysis, more than one-third of University students don’t have access to a computer 24 hours a day.
The Windows 95 based-program offers study notes for five courses: American government, American history, economics, computer information systems and psychology.
By the spring, Louper-Morris expects to add courses in philosophy, biology, anthropology and French. A similar program for professors is also in the works.
The program cannot be taken to labs because it must be saved on a user’s hard drive instead of disks.
The notes are taken from the criteria specified by university accreditation associations like the North Central Association of College and Schools, which accredits the University.
Under these guidelines, every student gets the same basic information in a course regardless of what school they attend. For example, all courses in American government must cover the judiciary branch and define a veto.
University instructor Sheryl Breen said computer and Internet study guides like CyberStudy are becoming increasingly common. However, the American government instructor said she doesn’t think students with such programs will skip her lectures.
“The nature of lectures is to augment the written material,” Breen said. Attending class is still crucial, she added.
Students who do attend class can enter their notes into the computer and incorporate them with the program’s information.
Another facet of the software is that the program can convert the course or student’s notes into true and false or multiple choice practice tests.
Since coming out in October, the software has been sold at numerous universities across the country. Besides the University area, the software is available locally at the University of St. Thomas and Minneapolis Community College.
Despite the program’s potentially wide appeal, it hasn’t sold as well as hoped, said Student Book Store employee Tom Westbrook.
To spark attention, Louper-Morris and the Student Book Store decided to plan today’s demonstration/giveaway of the $30 software.
Westbrook said he believes software like CyberStudy 101 will become more popular when more students own their own computers.
Breen said although computer-owning students might have an advantage with CyberStudy 101, she stands behind traditional study methods. For instance, her students can find written study guides on reserve at Wilson Library.