Students Help Students Through Supplemental Instruction

10/5/2017

In 2013, the LSU College of Engineering began offering supplemental instruction, or SI, courses. These 13 sophomore-level classes are peer-facilitated and designed for students who are enrolled in large, historically difficult, engineering and computer science courses.

The classes are fronted by SI leaders, typically undergraduate students that have recently taken the class and passed with a “B“ or higher, who help those in the course gain a better understanding of the content. Leaders also hold office hours, weekly tutor sessions and serve as a liaison between students and faculty members.

Adrienne Steele, STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) project manager, said students who have attended one-third of the sessions offered are 24 percent more likely to pass the class.

“Not only are students who have taken these classes done better, but they are also more likely to stay in engineering and graduate,” Steele said.

In spring 2017, senior civil engineering major Alexandra Donner decided to become an SI instructor after seeing how the sessions positively impacted her grades.

“I wanted to be that source of help for other people struggling in the (Mechanics of Materials) class,” Donner said.

Similarly, Matthew Waguespack failed Reservoir Fluid Properties, retook the course and passed with an “A.”

“This made me want to help anyone who was struggling the way I had my first time taking the course,” Waguespack said.

Donner and Waguespack both agreed that a student should reach out for help if the course becomes too difficult.

“No one should be left clueless in a class because they are afraid to speak up and say they don’t understand something,” Waguespack said. “Everyone learns in their own way. That is something we strive to accommodate at SIs.”

For more information about what SI sessions are available or how to become an instructor, please visit http://www.lsu.edu/eng/current/academic-support/supplemental-instruction.php.

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Article by Raven Nichols, communications intern. For more information contact Josh Duplechain, communications director, at josh@lsu.edu.