How can free web resources improve student performance?

How can free web resources improve student performance?

A fresh new case study from the University of Pennsylvania breaks down how access to personalized online resources create significant student improvements. 

The Study:

Students from an elementary special-ed class in Delaware were kicking off a new STEM project on dinosaurs. The school library had a small collection of dino books on the typical species—T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops. There are actually hundreds of different types of dinosaurs!

The classroom teacher wanted to know if her students would learn more if they could access online resources that would allow them to choose dino species they wanted to research.


In past years, the teacher had assigned students a dinosaur species. The library had limited resources and she was nervous about letting her young readers loose on the internet.

This year she divided her class into two internet research groups. Group 1) had 30 mins to search using Google and Group 2) had 30 mins to search using Choosito, which filters their results. All students were provided with the same fact-finding worksheet to record what they were learning.

Which student learned more?

The students with resources filtered by their reading level (Group 2) read significantly more than students who searched using Google (Group 1). After 30 mins, the Google searchers (Group 1) had looked through only 5 online resources, all of which were beyond their reading level. The students who used Choosito to filter their results (Group 2) were able to read significantly more resources and complete note keeping within the 30 mins. After 30 minutes, both groups were given access to Choosito to filter their internet search results.

How well they learned from this activity was tested the following day. Away from their computers and notes, they did a “Describe + Draw” activity, in which they described and drew their dinos. Surprisingly, the students included in their drawings details they could only know from their online reading, such as drawing a vegetarian dinosaur reaching out to eat tree leaves.

What this means for your students?

The study confirmed that it is important to offer students access to personalized resources at a reading level that isn’t too hard (or easy). If students can use resources that allow them to explore a topic which interests them, their curiosity and passion can really drive levels of understanding.

How Choosito helps?

In 2015, Google got rid of its reading level search filters. Choosito is like Google—but with filters for reading level, subject area + safety. It lets students search the web for free resources on topics they like and at a level they can actually read. For teachers and librarians who want to give students a bit more help, Choosito also lets you build searchable resource collections for your students!

Interested in Choosito for your school? Let us know.