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Community Building for Student Success

The THINKTANK’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program entered another academic year of continued growth and outreach to students. The SI program provides weekly study groups in historically challenging courses. These are courses where a great number of students struggle with the content and/or course structure. Our SI leaders are trained to gauge student’s understanding of core content and then guide them through collaborative activities for a greater and deeper understanding of the course material. One of the greatest challenges the SI program has faced is maintaining consistency with quality and effective SI sessions while expanding and changing on a yearly basis.

The success of the program is largely dependent on the SI community that has been established. This campus community consists of students, faculty, SI Leaders, and other campus partners. Similar to SI sessions, the administrative team is tasked with keeping a fluid structure that allows for each member of the SI community to influence and take part of the overall direction of the SI program.

For instance, when it comes to the SI schedule every member of the community has significant influence. Students impact major decisions about scheduling by the sheer number of students that attend. Faculty support and course structure help develop the student buy-in to our program, which often leads to decisions about where sessions can be held. Campus partners such a Residence Life, Library services, Room and Course Scheduling, and Student Unions play a pivotal role in providing critically needed space for large and small study group sessions. Lastly, SI Leaders are what glue together all members of the SI community. They often serve as liaison and bridges between students and faculty. Moreover, SI Leaders are our first contact with the many front desk workers in the Science Engineering Library and various residence halls. The majority of the interactions between SI community members are often lead by and related to the work of our SI Leaders.

In short, why should students come to SI? Simply put, the program focuses on forging relationships throughout campus to maximize the available resources to provide effective and convenient study group sessions, where students need them most. Moreover, students are exposed to other students like them, with similar goals, interests, and even study habits. It is common to see groups of students attend the same weekly SI sessions together and plan their second year of introductive science courses around each other’s schedules. The college experience is a journey that does not have to be completed alone; the SI program is here to help students take their first steps into STEM majors.

For more information on THINK TANK’s Supplemental Instruction program visit the website at:
http://thinktank.arizona.edu/supplementalinstruction