Pathway to academic excellence


Supplemental instruction helps students transition 


by Frank Elechi, contributor


Since its inception in the fall of 2008, the faculty of science supplemental instruction program has helped students improve their grades through peer co-ordinated study groups it provides for first year students. Since then, the SI program has recorded a significant 5 per cent improvement in the grades of its students. The SI session has been adopted once more for the 2010 fall semester.

Currently, the SI program offers additional tutoring in fourteen introductory science courses such as mathematics, physics, biochemistry, computer science, statistics, and many others. These courses are divided into sessions which are handled by SI leaders, students who were chosen based on their academic performance in their chosen subject and their communication skills.

Dr. Cheng, who manages the SI program, says that it was designed to help students have a smooth transition from high school into university. He says a few students downplay the significance of the program because they feel at home with the syllabus early in the semester. However, Cheng says they tend to need it sooner or later as the first 3 weeks in the university curriculum is set aside for review.

The SI session can be useful for students because the presentation of knowledge in the university is quite different from what they are accustomed to in high school. It’s also particularly useful to those students that spent a while out of school before enrolling.

The University of Regina has some classes of 180 to 200 students, with teachers having only 3 office hours a week. If all of their students asked for help one week, many of them wouldn’t fit into that time. This, coupled with some office hours clashing with other classes, makes SI sessions a good alternative for students.

SI leader Michelle said she basically simplifies topics taught in class, with specific emphasis on areas where students had difficulties. Also, questions similar to those on assignments are being solved so that the students will stand a better chance attempting them at home.

The SI program is the pathway to academic excellence. It has everything necessary to help students succeed in their academics, which includes helping the students gain mastery over the course contents through practice, studying in a relaxed environment, and access to knowledge in areas the student experiences difficulties. With a well-structured schedule that does not clash with classes, and an informal, though coordinated, learning environment, students are bound to practice and improve their problem-solving skills.

And the faculty of science is footing the bill, so it is absolutely free.

For more information on supplemental instruction, contact Dr. Cheng in LB250 or call 337-3290.

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