This year, a pilot of Supplemental Instruction (SI) provides academic support for students in three notoriously difficult course sequences at The University of Mississippi: ACCY 201 and 202 (Introduction to Accounting Principles I and II), BISC 160 and 162 (Biological Sciences I and II), and CHEM 105 and 106 (General Chemistry I and II). The SI program will help students enrolled in these courses to better succeed.
With SI, students enjoy the informality of a study group combined with the guidance of an expert. SI sessions are led by an upper-class student who recently earned a high grade in the course. The weekly study sessions are free and open to all students enrolled in these courses.
SI provides students with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of these courses’ content. During SI sessions, which are voluntary and informal, students gather in groups of five to eight to compare notes, solve problems, discuss readings, develop study skills and prepare for tests.
The SI leaders receive training in teaching/learning strategies and are in regular contact with the course instructor. They attend the class lectures so they know how the material is presented in class. They don’t do the work for the students or simply give them the answers; they facilitate discussion and problem solving, plan team-based learning activities, and allow students to formulate and answer their own questions. The SI leader creates highly efficient and effective study groups for students to actively engage in understanding difficult course material.
Lucile McCook, professor of BISC 160 said, “Instead of saying ‘study more’ when a student comes to me with questions, I can direct them to the SI study groups where they will be helped more than if they were to simply keep going over class notes.”
McCook said that in SI study groups students are literally given methods to study by. This, she said, is what makes for a high grade in the course.
Alexa Lampkin, a student leader of the BISC 160 study group says, “After a while, you create a bond with the students. These SI courses help them transition from high school studying to college studying.”
The student leaders for BISC 160 are Jacob Elrod and Kelli Dulaney. For CHEM 105 they are Sam Egger and Adams Briscoe and for ACCY 201, Chelsie Chapman. These leaders were selected on the merit of academic achievement in the courses and on how well they could relate course material study skills to the students.
The SI program will continue into the spring with the three courses’ second parts, BISC 162, CHEM 106, and ACCY 202.
The SI program is sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, with Dr. Nancy Wiggers, Learning Specialist, as the SI Supervisor. The University of Mississippi pilot of SI is supported by training offered by the International Center for SI at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
If the program proves conducive to student success in these courses, then the University will decide whether or not to continue the program into the next academic year.