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Supplemental Instruction program at Western empowers students to learn from their peers

Supplemental Instruction program at Western empowers students to learn from their peers

Supporting student success is a key component of the Western experience. From choosing a meta-major with the assistance of the Academic Resource Center to the helpful team in the Writing Center, Mountaineers have a variety of tools available to them. Of all the academic support services Western offers, Supplemental Instruction (SI) is the only one dedicated specifically to helping students succeed in high-risk classes.

SI is an academic support program that uses peer-assisted study sessions to improve student success in historically difficult academic classes like Chemistry and Economics. SI leaders are current Western students who have already taken the course and excelled in it.

The work truly begins after a student is selected to be an SI leader. They attend lectures, take notes and often work as an assistant to the professor during the class period. These students then prepare to lead regular review sessions outside of scheduled class time.

Sessions are generally held between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. in campus spaces like the Borick Business Building and Hurst Hall. In an effort to make these sessions comfortable and inviting to students who may be struggling in a class, faculty members are not involved. This gives students the opportunity to ask questions about the material in a more relaxed environment.

According to SI’s faculty advisor and Mathematics professor Jeremy Muskat, Ph.D. students who attended a session improved their grades and increased their confidence in understanding the material.

“Western has so much to offer students, but never forget that you are a student first. SI is where [students can] develop the skills to be…successful,” Muskat said.

While the academic support is vital, it the social aspect of this program and the relationships sustained over time that set this group apart from traditional tutoring centers. SI creates small communities where students can collaborate and create a network they can rely on in the future.

“SI sessions are a great place to meet like-minded students that you can work with for years to come,” Muskat said.

Senior Cell & Molecular Biology major Sydney Poole leads an SI session for Chemistry 113 and can relate to the challenges that some of her peers might face in the classroom.

“As a former chemistry hater, I can genuinely relate to the struggle of passing chemistry,” Poole said. The program empowered her to take ownership of her academic life at Western, something that she tries to pass on to students who attend one of her sessions.

“Finding a social atmosphere centered around challenging course work created a network of resources that influenced my dedication to academics. When someone attends my SI sessions they leave with a sense of confidence and diligent work ethic,” Poole said.

Find the full schedule of sessions offered here.

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