The University of Arizona

UA Supplemental Instruction Program Named Gold Standard at International Level

Recently, the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program at the University of Arizona became one of a handful of programs in the country and the first in Arizona to be accredited by the International Center of Supplemental Instruction. The certification is the gold standard for SI programs at the international level, and comes at a critical time for University of Arizona Supplemental Instruction (UASI) as the program continues to undergo rapid growth in size and impact. 

Growth and Impact of SI Program

Nationally, fewer than 40% of the students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field ultimately earn a STEM degree. In a study that assessed the rates of persistence in STEM majors among UA freshmen who participated in Supplemental Instruction (SI) in their first year, results show that participants persisted within a STEM major at a rate 14.5 percentage points higher than non-participants. Participation in SI was especially impactful for under-represented minority students (URM), who saw a 22.9 percent higher STEM persistence rate compared to URM non-participants. 

UASI has seen immense growth in recent years. In academic year 2015-2016, it served about 3,800 students for a total of over 20,000 visits, an increase of 42% in terms of visits from the prior year.

In 2010, the THINK TANK SI staff was led by one staff coordinator and seven SI leaders. By academic year 2016-1017, the program employed three professional staff and 68 SI leaders to provide 202 sessions per week supporting several chemistry, physics, biology, and physiology courses.

About the SI Program

Supplemental Instruction is an academic assistance program through the THINK TANK at the UA that provides regularly scheduled, out-of-class study sessions. The SI sessions are led by students who have taken the course previously and have a good understanding of the material. The sessions use collaborative learning techniques and are aimed at helping students become better learners. SI is targeted at courses where students often struggle: physics, chemistry, biology, and large general education courses.

Future Direction of SI Program

The SI program will continue to expand in the upcoming year. In academic year 2017-18, UASI will employ 80 SI leaders and an additional SI coordinator to support a growing list of courses, including General Education courses. 

UASI is an 100% Engagement experience at the UA, providing leadership and mentoring opportunities for SI leaders. The certification standards ensure initial training, performance, and ongoing professional development meet international standards for excellence. The THINK TANK will use resources to train new professional staff in order to meet the requirement that staff be certified within six months. Certification of the UA’s program also enables participating SI leaders to be individually certified. 

Critically, this newly-awarded certification positions UASI to be a bigger player on the national and international level, which is timely given UA's recent announcement of plans to open more than 25 “microcampuses” at international partner universities over the next three years.

To learn about the SI Program and its international certification, read the full announcement on THINK TANK'S official website.