What is the SI Program?
Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a program that offers collaborative learning workshops for participating classes. The workshops focus on critical thinking and problem solving exercises centered on the course material. They are scheduled outside of class time and they are led by trained student leaders. All the workshops are free to students.
SI is not a remedial program; it is not targeted at "at-risk" students, but rather at "at-risk", i.e. difficult classes. It is currently used by dozens of faculty members in classes ranging from pre-college math and ESL to advanced physics, chemistry, and social sciences.
What can SI do for students?
SI helps students in a number of ways:
- it gets them to spend more time on the class material: that alone increases their chances of success. Moreover, the time is spent reviewing and discussing concepts and/or solving problems related to the course, which helps them understand the material much better;
it is collaborative: students work with each other and so get a chance to ask questions, discuss ideas, and participate in ways that they would not have done in class. Sometimes they are the learners, sometimes the teachers: in both cases the interactions are excellent learning opportunities;
- it helps students develop active learning strategies, often modeled by the student leaders, and improve their study habits;
- it creates links between students and the college community: this is one of the key factors in retention and success, from community colleges all the way to Berkeley and Harvard. Students develop friendships with other participants and with student leaders; they find people they can work with or go to with their questions about class material. Eventually they use these links to navigate their way through the college experience;
- overall it produces higher retention and success rates, and students who attend regularly develop more interest in the class, contribute more, and earn better grades.
How and how well SI works depends on a number of factors such as the availability of good student leaders, the commitment of the faculty, the convenience of the workshop times, the dedication of the students themselves, etc. To find out more about how you can have a successful workshop program in your classes, contact Nancy Yaldizian, SI Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, extension 5357.