When it comes to studying for their all-important baccalaureate exam, students in Cameroon are largely left to their own devices. Now a team of Cornell researchers wants to use those devices to help them prepare for the test.
The researchers sent a series of study questions via SMS and WhatsApp to Cameroonian students – an attempt to take advantage of growing phone use by African youths to combat some of the challenges they face. The study found that while the approach holds promise, participation rates, which hovered around 20%, were influenced by students’ perceptions of the project’s trustworthiness and their own security.
“There were definitely concerns about financial or security-based scams, rumors and fake news kinds of things,” said Anthony Poon, a doctoral student in the field of information science at Cornell Tech and first author of “Engaging High School Students in Cameroon with Exam Practice Quizzes via SMS and WhatsApp,” which will be presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 4-9 in Glasgow, Scotland.