Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Supplemental Instruction Can Help You Get a Better Grade

I am sure that everyone has enrolled in a course or two that completely knocked you off of your feet; sometimes making you feel as if the entire text book was written in a foreign language. But there is help available.

I have taken a few courses such as Anatomy and Physiology I and Chemistry that completely intimidated me. Unfortunately, I had to take A and P over again because I gave up too early. I felt as if there was no way that I was going to understand the material.

Luckily my second time around, I was enrolled in a course that had Supplemental Instruction. I had no idea what it was but from the description I thought: Here is my chance to pass this class.

Supplemental Instruction, also called SI, is basically extra study sessions taught by a leader who has already done well in the class. It's all students, not instructors. My first meeting was awesome. I was with like-minded peers that all had the same issue: We needed to pass. My SI leader knew what to expect in each chapter.

We, as a group, went over notes, different ways of memorization, and exam preparation. It was mind blowing to me that I was making the course a lot harder than it should have been. With a new perspective, I realized it didn't have to be that hard.

SI Leader Jamie DeWilde
Supplemental Instruction (SI) takes a unique approach to academic support. Rather than targeting students who are at risk, the program identifies high risk courses, often those taken by beginning students. The key to the whole thing is peer-to-peer interaction.

The goal is to help students master course content while they develop and integrate learning and study strategies. Generally, students who participate in SI sessions earn higher course grades and stay with courses at a higher rate than non-SI participants.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Jamie DeWilde right before she was heading to her first class where she is an SI Leader. She's a busy woman.

"It is great to get a better understanding of the class that you are in," DeWilde said. "A great benefit to SI is that it is peer to peer not student to teacher, you are just more comfortable."

James Davis gave me a vision of what goes on during his SI sessions.
James Davis says he wants to make SI fun.

"I begin each session with limitless motivation and relaxation. I like to use interactive media such as uploading a graph or an animation. We play Jeopardy and Family Feud to keep it interesting," said Davis.

Jamie and James both brought up a new tool that is being used. It's called WebEX, an online chat room that a student is invited to join. They can participate in an SI session, without having to be in the room.

Not every class offers SI. But for those that do offer SI, anyone in the class who wants the extra help, can get it. A student does not necessarily have to be failing or doing poorly to participate. Sometimes it is just nice being in the same room with peers who are hitting the same obstacles as you are.

SI is available not only in A and P but also history, business, and even chemistry.

You can contact the SI leader in your classroom or your professor. If you are unable to find an SI leader, contact Toni Murad, Supplemental Instruction Coordinator at 615-230-4757.

Also check out the link to the Supplemental Instruction page
http://www.volstate.edu/SupplementalInstruction/index.php

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