Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program designed to improve the student's academic success and increase retention. The SI program targets traditionally difficult courses and provides regularly scheduled, peer-led study sessions. These sessions are available to all students enrolled in the class at no cost. This program is brought to you by the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
At USC, as on most campuses, students have difficulty excelling in the entry level survey courses which they are required to take. These "gatekeeper" courses usually require large amounts of reading from difficult texts, utilize examinations that focus on application and analysis, do not require or record attendance, and because of their size, offer diminished opportunity for teacher / student interaction. These courses also tend to have a high D, F, W rates ("D" and "F" grades and Withdrawals). These are the courses which Supplemental Instruction supports. Our purpose is to provide you with help in the classes you need it the most.
SI is open to all students enrolled in the targeted class and therefore attracts students from all ability levels. SI helps "A" students keep their "A" and it helps struggling students pull up their grades.
Major research studies, such as the Harvard Assessment of Undergraduate Education, indicate that students earn better grades when they work actively with the course material and participate in small groups. Therefore, you should expect the SI sessions to have an informal atmosphere where you and your classmates can explore important concepts, review class notes, discuss reading assignments, work practice problems and go over relevant study skills. These sessions are facilitated by an SI Leader.
SI leaders are undergraduate students who have already successfully completed the SI class. Many have done advanced work in the discipline. The leaders are selected based on their academic strengths as well as their communication and people skills. The leaders attend the SI class, take notes, do the readings and homework just as the enrolled students. The leaders also meet regularly with the professor to discuss what concepts should be stressed in the weekly sessions.
During the first week of class, the SI leader will take a survey of when the students would most likely attend an SI session. Using that input, the SI leader will arrange for four weekly study sessions for the semester. Often a leader will change a session time during the semester to better accommodate the students.
Attendance is taken solely for statistical purposes. We will look at each attendee's final class grade and actual number of times s/he attended a weekly session. We also look at the number of student contact hours each leader has each semester.
Certainly! In classes that have more that one leader (BISC 120/220, CHEM 105, CHEM 322), it is a good idea to attend sessions lead by different leaders because each leader does their own worksheets thus giving you additional problems and feedback.
Basically, the leaders look at their schedule(s) and then try to choose a time 2 or 3 days in advance of the exam that is convenient for most of the students in the class. Obviously, this isn't always possible - but we do our best.