The Utah State University Office of Student Retention & Completion has transitioned its Supplemental Instruction (SI) program completely online and is seeing great success with students. Prior to the Fall 2020 semester, more than 1,200 students filled out pre-semester evaluation surveys, and this survey included a link to an SI introduction video to help students understand the benefits of attending SI sessions. All sessions are held via Zoom and are voluntary.
So far this semester, the remote SI program has been averaging between 5-10 students per session, with more also taking advantage of recorded sessions on course Canvas pages. All students attending breadth education courses are encouraged to attend supplemental instruction sessions if they are in need of extra learning opportunities, and these sessions are included with student tuition and fees. USU faculty is encouraged to recommend the program to their students if they teach a course where SI is offered.
“For students attending Supplemental Instruction, we aim to support their development of learning strategies and core competencies to be successful in general education courses,” said SI Program Coordinator Charity Maeda Van den Akker. “We help them develop their writing skills and citations, how to manage their time, being able to note take and other types of strategies. The other thing we are pushing this year, since everything is remote, we are doing everything we can to record the sessions and make them accessible on faculty Canvas pages.”
Supplemental Instruction is designed to provide peer, academic support to any student registered for a breadth education course. Students who attend sessions receive instruction from fellow students who have already taken these courses. These sessions are designed to add to lectures received in class and allow students to ask more questions. Studies have shown that students who take advantage of supplemental instruction often earn higher test scores and grades and graduate at a higher rate.
“The benefit of SI also is to help students make connections with peers who have taken those courses previously and have done well, so that they can formulate good discussions and questions as they continue to take the class,” Van den Akker said. “One of the things we have found is that oftentimes, students don’t know how to build their attitude of inquiry, which we know is very helpful in the learning process. Just because they are not sure what kinds of questions to ask, or they are too afraid or timid to ask in a huge classroom full of students. SI provides an opportunity to build a relationship with peers where they can be comfortable and more openly ask the questions they need to ask in order for them to be successful in that course.”
For more information on SI and to see which courses currently offer it, visit usu.edu/supplemental-instruction.