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Supplemental Instruction at Housatonic Community College


Supplemental Instruction

Mission Statement

Housatonic Community College’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program develops academic support communities of higher level thinkers and self-empowered learners. This self-selecting, course-specific, peer-led program seeks to promote active, collaborative learning involving critical thinking and transferable study skills. Its efforts are aimed at helping students pass these courses at a higher rate and thus improving their retention rate.

Vision Statement

SI at HCC will help students enrolled in historically challenging courses succeed at higher rates and continue their education in a timely manner. SI at HCC will become an exemplary, effective academic assistance model through which students will engage in success-oriented behaviors, and by which other institutions can benchmark and through which the greater HCC community can understand and accept the validity of SI.

Program Goals

SI will:

  1. Focus on large courses with high rates of D, F and withdrawal (DFW) grades to link with the SI Program
  2. Help students earn a higher course grade than their peers who did not attend, in particular, those students who attend the study sessions weekly
  3. Reduce the DFW rates for students attending SI study sessions
  4. Contribute to the improvement of retention rates for students attending the SI study sessions by providing an active, engaging, inclusive learning environment that promotes critical thinking and shared, transferrable study strategies
  5. Reinforce student leaders’ knowledge of course material and leadership abilities, as well as develop creative thinking skills
  6. Build strong relationships with SI-linked faculty by helping them to appreciate the benefits of SI as well as the struggle students may have with the course material

Learning Outcomes

As a result of participating in SI, students will:

  1. Increase their understanding of course concepts, apply them to different sets of problems, and understand how concepts from different disciplines connect (science, technology, and math; integrative knowledge)
  2. Develop critical thinking skills that mature beyond memorization in a way that enables them to evaluate, analyze, and demonstrate evidence of their learning (critical thinking, quantitative reasoning)
  3. Acquire transferrable study skill behavior which will allow students to become more confident in their approach to mastering future difficult material (self-efficacy, self-advocacy)

As a result of serving as Supplemental Instruction facilitators, student leaders will:

  • Develop creative thinking skills as they design study session plans that involve taking risks, navigating challenges, providing a variety of activities, and enhancing collaboration (creative thinking)
  • Enhance critical thinking skills as they set and assess learning objectives for their study sessions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy of higher level thinking (critical thinking)
  • Develop professionally by improving their oral and written communication skills as they attempt to explain concepts and organize activities (oral communication)
  • Build their leadership skills as they facilitate group participation and collaboration, and as team leaders organize and conduct discipline-specific team meetings around sharing best practices (leadership and teamwork)

Assessment Plan

To improve SI and ensure that progress is being made toward the aforementioned goals and desired learning outcomes, a comprehensive assessment plan is conducted. The following assessment practices will be initiated and/or continued this year:

  • Report comparisons of course grades for the SI attendees according to the number of times they attended the study sessions (0, 1-2, 3-4, 5-7, and 8 or more)
  • Report comparisons of DFW grades for those who attended SI study sessions versus those who did not
  • Examine students’ perception of understanding of course material having attended SI study sessions through the end-of-spring survey
  • Examine students’ perception of their acquisition of transferrable learning strategies through the end-of-spring survey
  • Examine the professional growth of SI leaders and their creative thinking skills through reflection journals and portfolios
  • Examine mid-course surveys before major exam periods in order to determine why some students only attend sporadically
  • Examine the most recent Summer DFW rates to determine which courses are most in need of SI
  • Utilize focus groups to see whether students find SI useful and to determine what aspects of an SI session help them improve
  • Examine SI participants vs. non-participants within overall at-risk student population to compare academic performance
  • Compare academic outcomes of SI participants and non-participants who have similar characteristics within individual courses

Contributions To Student Success

SI contributes to the institutional goal of enhancing retention rates, graduation rates, GPA success, and satisfaction levels of HCC students by:

  • Offering peer-led, weekly academic study sessions for students enrolled in challenging courses, allowing them possibility of graduating at a faster pace
  • Providing an environment where students learn to ask thoughtful, course-specific, conceptual questions of themselves and each other, and become more invested in their own learning
  • Increasing students’ confidence in attacking tough course material by being aware of how they study and how those strategies can apply to other courses
  • Enhancing leadership skills, job opportunities, and professional interactions for students
  • Provide workshops on study strategies and create an inclusive learning environment for the two-day pre-semester SI leader training
  • Encouraging faculty to:
    1. Understand the function and best practices of the SI program
    2. Consider linking their course with the SI program
    3. Help with the interviewing and selection of student leaders
    4. Participate in the faculty social events before and following the semester
  • Communicating with academic advisors to solicit suggestions on SI course links
  • Promote the study sessions by presenting at the following events: New Student Orientation and Freshman Seminar

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