Purdue’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program is now seen by the campus community as a viable means for students to gain navigational skills and content knowhow in some of the tough entry-level courses. 

Campus partnerships have provided shared spaces for SI study sessions in residence halls, the student recreational facility, and some of the other student services across the university.  Sharing student resources with the math department and inviting professors to participate in the individual interviewing process helps to create community. 

A faculty brochure, featuring quotes from participating professors and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, provides a clear picture of SI for professors new to the program.  Eye-catching posters exhibiting students commenting about their experience with the program, corresponding bookmarks, and a video featuring students and leaders, helped with getting the program launched. 

The BoilerGuide app, for Android and Apple users, hosts most of Purdue’s student services including the SI session times and places.  The SI tab is simplified and easy to navigate.  Not only are the days and times of the study sessions easy to find, but students can download the sessions onto their mobile calendar with a fifteen-minute reminder.   Magnetic card readers have created a paperless method of attendance gathering, and leaders use Sharepoint as an online resource library.

Careful attention to SI pedagogy with techniques such as redirecting questions, inclusivity, adequate wait time, varied and creative activities, and probing for deeper understanding all contribute to effective study sessions.  SI leader portfolios provide new leaders with proven best practices, showcasing each leader’s creative thinking processes. 

The program continues to show successful learning outcomes, attendance increases, and retention significance.  

Outstanding SI Program of the Year

Purdue’s Supplemental Instruction Program was awarded “Outstanding Supplemental Instruction Program” for 2014 at the International SI Conference in Chicago on May 23, 2014.  The notification letter from the International Center for SI at University of Missouri – Kansas City said, “This recognition acknowledges the extraordinary contribution that you and your staff have made to the international SI community due to outstanding success that has been achieved with your program.”  Evaluation criteria for this award included evidence of success by recognition from students, program staff, faculty, and campus administrators; evidence of successful program outcomes in student learning, increased graduation rates, and reduced attrition; and evidence of successful marketing of the program.

Group at Program Awards

Outstanding SI Leader Award

Chelsea Hunter

Chelsea Hunter grew up in Zionsville, Indiana with her parents and two sisters. After graduating from Zionsville Community High School in 2010, she attended Purdue University and recently graduated with a degree in biology.  

In 2011, Chelsea started as a Supplemental Instruction leader for the introductory biology course that inspired her degree path. Within a few weeks, the number of students attending Chelsea’s sessions hit a record high. Five semesters later, she continues to put her creative efforts to work by planning activities that help the students understand and remember difficult material.  Her humor and ability to relate to students on their level has made her sessions very popular.

There are many examples of Chelsea’s dedication to helping students succeed: having a projector screen fall on her before one of her study sessions, completing the session, and driving herself to the emergency room; holding a session outside during a fire drill; and staying late to work with a student with a learning disability. Chelsea’s leadership is exemplary. She will carry the skills she has gained as an SI leader as she pursues a career in medicine.   

Professor’s Recognition Award

Victor Gonsalves receiving award

Victor Gonsalves – CS 180 Computer Science | Professor Buster Dunsmore nominated Victor for offering students help after class and for his ability to “comprehend every student question and to answer it in a way that students can understand.” This was Victor’s 6th semester as a SI leader. In addition to his regular duties as a leader, he is the Computer Science SI Team Leader and is helping to mentor the younger leaders as a Senior Leader. Congratulations, Victor!

Nic Angle receiving award

Nic Angle – MA 161 Mathematics | Professor Steve Bell nominated Nic for his enthusiasm about the subject and for always being there for the calculus students. “He has been a tremendous resource for my students, and it is clear that he contributed greatly to the success of the course.” “He has given me feedback about what the students were struggling with the most.” Congratulations, Nic!

Katie Rearick receiving award

Katie Rearick – CHM 257 Chemistry | Professor P. Veeraraghavan Ramachandran nominated Katie for helping to make a difference with the general chemistry students by incorporating a useful study skill into every session and for trying to reach various learning styles in her varied, tactile activities. He says that she “makes the learning environment more relaxed and helps students to form connections with each other.” Congratulations, Katie!

Emily Buatois receiving award

Emily Buatois – CHM 111 and 112 Chemistry – Nominated by Professors Marcy Towns and Cindy Harwood | Emily has had nearly 30 – 50 students regularly. She’s a master at getting students involved in their learning.” A quote from a student who attended regularly is this: Emily and SI save me. I can listen during lecture, but SI is when I get to practice those concepts and solve problems. It really helps me get it. Emily talks with Cindy and I about her learning activities and they are designed to help students learn important concepts through a variety of mechanisms – play acting, matching, working problems – Emily is a master at getting students involved in their learning. As we have revised the course we have increased the chemistry content in the course emphasizing the way particles interact, how rapidly they react, and how a chemist would describe the interactions (acid/base or oxidation/reduction for example). The students are more successful because of Emily and those who regularly attend her sessions benefit greatly from her innovative and effective teaching methods.

Zeynep Kart receiving award

Zeynep Kart – ECON 251 Economics – Nominated by Professor Kelly Blanchard | Zeynep has served as the SI leader for Econ 251 for the past five semesters, and she is exactly the type of student leader I needed in Econ 251. At her core, she finds purpose in helping others. That commitment is especially apparent in the time, effort, and creativity she puts into her work as an SI leader. I often hear from students who have had the opportunity to interact with Zeynep, and they are unanimous in their high praise of her. Just last week, a student came to my office to tell me that she had been having trouble with a particular concept, and her visit to that week’s SI session (in her words) “blew my mind” so that the concept is now perfectly clear to her.

Mitch Kreider receiving award

Mitch Kreider – PHYS 172 Physics – Nominated by Professors Andy Hirsch and Mark Haugan | We have had the pleasure of working with Mitch Kreider for the past 3 years as a Supplemental Instruction Leader. During this time, Mitch has consistently gone the “extra mile” to serve the students enrolled in PHYS 172. This is a required course for all of the approximately 2600 first-year engineering students. We have had extremely positive feedback from students regarding Mitch’s SI sessions and their effectiveness in helping them master the concepts in PHYS 172. Mitch has also been a wonderful mentor to the new SI leaders who have joined the PHYS 172 SI team. He has been eager to share his now intimate knowledge of those conceptually difficult areas that students find challenging.

Chris Schenkhuizen receiving award

Chris Schenkhuizen – CS 180 Computer Science – Nominated by Professor H. E. Dunsmore | Chris has done an excellent job this semester! Every day after class students come to the front of the classroom to ask questions about homeworks, labs, and projects. Chris joins me at the front and answers questions better than I do. Often when I get a complicated, technical question from a student, I just point to Chris and say, "Talk to him". Also, Chris does a good job of fielding questions along the lines of "I am really struggling in this class. What can I do to pass it?" or "I really don't understand what class was about today. How can I learn this?" In addition, Chris has his office hours and study sessions during each week. He has a thorough knowledge of software development in Java and an excellent ability to comprehend every student question and to answer it in a way that student can understand.

Tobi Gborigi receiving award

Tobi Gborigi – AGEC 271 – Nominated by Professor Michael Wetzstein | Tobi’s dedication and personality are a unique blend, which mixes into a very caring SI. He truly cares about students being successful in AGEC 217. Tobi has a love for learning and helps others love learning. He considers the students who come regularly to his SI sessions as his students. Tobi is very proud of his students who routinely receive the top grades on the exams. Students are always stating the value and usefulness of Tobi’s SI sessions. I even had a mom comment to me how successful the SI sessions are. She stated her daughter did not do well in a previous economics course, but with Tobi’s SI sessions, her daughter very much enjoys economics and currently has an A in the course.