Supplemental Instruction Program Receives International Certification
June 8, 2017
The Supplemental Instruction (SI) program at the University of Arizona has just become one of a handful of programs in the country accredited by the International Center of Supplemental Instruction. This certification, the gold standard for SI programs at the international level, is a step in the rapid growth in size and impact of University of Arizona Supplemental Instruction (UASI).
The SI model was created in 1973 at the University of Missouri—Kansas City to provide academic support for historically difficult courses. It has been extensively reviewed by leading researchers in student development and higher education who confirmed improvements in final course grades, retention, and graduation rates between SI users and non-users. UASI offers free, weekly, out-of-class study group sessions to all students enrolled in a targeted course or section. They are led by trained UA students who have previously excelled in the course and attend every course lecture. In the collaborative sessions, students review concepts through participation in hands-on activities, discuss lecture content, develop organizational tools, and prepare for exams. Participants learn how to integrate course content with study skills.
This newly-awarded certification positions UASI to be a bigger player on the national and international level, which includes programs at over 3,500 institutions in more than 30 countries worldwide. UASI has a strong record of participation at the International Conference on Supplemental Instruction, and will continue to be a leader in the SI community at future conferences through engagement with other programs. The 10th International Conference on Supplemental Instruction will be held in 2018 in Seattle, Washington.
The certification standards ensure initial training, performance, and ongoing professional development meet international standards for excellence. The THINK TANK will use resources to train new professional staff in order to meet the requirement that staff be certified within six months. Certification of the UA’s program also enables participating SI leaders to be individually certified.
UASI has grown rapidly. In 2010 the THINK TANK SI staff was one staff coordinator and seven SI leaders. Together they supported students in general education and biology courses. By academic year 2016-17 the program employed three professional staff and 68 SI leaders to provide 202 sessions per week supporting several chemistry, physics, biology, and physiology courses. The number of student visits increased 46% between fall 2015 (11,031 visits) and fall 2016 (16,086 visits). During that time, SI supported student success in STEM majors by helping to increase persistence within majors from freshman to sophomore year. THINK TANK data show that 81.6% of consistent (3+ visits) SI users who were STEM majors in fall 2015 remained in STEM in fall 2016 compared to 67.1% of a non-participant control group (a 14.5 percentage point difference). UASI is a 100% Engagement experience at the University, providing leadership and mentoring opportunities for SI leaders.
In academic year 2017-18, UASI will employ 80 SI leaders to support a growing list of courses, including General Education courses. An additional SI coordinator joined the professional staff in May 2017 to meet the administrative and supervisory demands of the rapidly expanding program. Arturo Rodriguez, SI Services Coordinator, credits the combined efforts of many partners for the program’s consistent growth and positive impact on students: “It is directly attributed to the hard work and collaboration between many SI leaders, faculty, and campus partners such as Housing & Residential Life, UA Libraries, and Room and Course Scheduling, that worked together to help those students in our most difficult courses.”