In a short time, The University of Texas at Tyler Supplemental Instruction Program has already seen major successes, according to Dana Welch, UT Tyler student affairs administrator.
Supplemental Instruction is a series of weekly peer-assisted study sessions led by a SI leader in courses deemed historically difficult by previous students. The nationally-known program began at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as a way to help its medical students. UT Tyler began its SI program fall 2005.
One success story from the UT Tyler SI program, according to Welch, is former SI leader John Brannon Gary of Troup.
Gary, a 2006 UT Tyler graduate and current chemistry student in the Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan, was awarded a three-year National Science Foundation fellowship. Of the 910 awards, 52 chemistry awards were given.
He was one of seven chosen inorganic chemistry students to receive the award. It will not only cover tuition costs, but also help Gary to continue his inorganic chemistry research.
“We started out with four leaders the first semester and had 13 this semester,” said Welch, who also coordinates the SI program. “He (Gary) was part of the initial group that helped us launch the SI program in 2005-06. Needless to say, SI leaders go on to represent UT Tyler very well.”
Three current UT Tyler SI leaders, Crystal Martin, Skylar Stagner and Curtis Clark, submitted a conference session proposal and were selected to present their ideas to other SI leaders and supervisors at the regional SI conference held May 15-17 at Texas A&M University.
Steven Ryan, Travis Cook, Christina Patchen, Carrie Carpenter, along with Welch, also traveled to the conference, which is held every other year.
The students’ session titled, “It’s Elementary, My Dear Watson,” focused on hands-on concepts and learning strategies for chemistry, biology and history classes.
Other SI leaders involved in the program this semester were Laura Strube, Sagun Shrestha, Roman Martin, Michael McClendon, Sealy Hambright, Melissa Dotson, Arika Pravitasari, Cole Allen and Darvy Mann.
“The program here has grown by leaps and bounds,” Welch added. “I have had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented and creative students in the SI program.”
Welch said the program is designed to help improve study skills with the goal of improving grades.
“We target what is considered historically difficult, based on national data, which includes a list of classes that have a 40 percent rate of a letter grade D, F or withdrawl,” Welch added. “We also target lower-level courses, the freshman and sophomore courses to help student retention. Overall, this helps not only retention but dropout rate in those core curriculum classes, the history, math and sciences. Research shows group learning is the most effective learning.”
SI leader qualifications include holding a sophomore class ranking, earning a grade of A or B in the selected SI course or comparable course, maintain a 3.0 GPA or better, receive faculty recommendation and attend certified training.
This fall, SI will be available in such classes as general biology I and II, anatomy and physiology I, general chemistry I and American history I and II.
For more information, contact Welch, 903.565.5727.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of nearly 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.