BATON ROUGE – LSU senior Joshua Edwards, of Baton Rouge, La., is this year's recipient of the Saundra Yancy McGuire Outstanding Supplemental Instruction, or SI, Leader Award in recognition for his love of teaching and learning.
Edwards will graduate in May 2017 with a double major in microbiology and chemistry, and has helped students succeed in their general chemistry classes for seven consecutive semesters.
SI is an exemplary program offered through the Center for Academic Success, or CAS, to help students excel in their classes. SI leaders hold free bi-weekly review sessions in historically difficult classes. SI leaders attend classes and work closely with instructors, so that the sessions are relevant to the material covered in class. The program increases graduation rates up to 34 percent for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, or STEM, students that use the SI program, over those who do not.
With a strong background in basic biology and with compassion for others, Edwards put together study groups for his classmates who were struggling in their freshman biology class. Edwards’ chemistry professor, Elzbieta Cook, suggested that he apply to become an SI leader. Edwards explained that being an SI leader is no easy feat.
“When I first started as an SI leader, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I knew I wanted to help the students, but figuring out how to do that was a challenge,” Edwards said. “I literally spent hours planning each session to try to figure out the best way to help students learn.”
John Hopkins, CHEM 1201 professor, noticed Edward’s efforts and worked with him to develop methods to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of student success in large freshman science classes. The two noticed that students dedicated a tremendous amount of time to their studies, but it did not have the intended effect on their test scores.
“We concluded that ‘practice makes perfect’ was not necessarily true in education,” Edwards said. “Students have to go beyond just repeated exercises to truly master the material ... they have to learn from mistakes they make and take the appropriate action to correct their thinking.”
After countless hours of reviewing and learning about the topics he was teaching to students, Edwards decided to officially declare his second major as chemistry in spring 2016. He plans to continue to study chemistry and biology even further in graduate school.
Edwards’ experience as an SI leader not only led him to pursue another major, but also helped him define a career path.
“SI also made me realize how much I love teaching,” Edwards said. “I want education to be a central part of my future, so I plan to one day teach at the university level.”
About the Center for Academic Success
As the university’s central learning center, the CAS enhances the learning and teaching experience at LSU by empowering individuals with effective, transferable strategies and resources. CAS offers a variety of academic support include tutoring, individual consultations and learning strategy workshops. The SI program is provided as a collaboration of the CAS and the colleges at LSU to provide students with the best educational experience possible and helps students to achieve at their highest intellectual capacity.
About Supplemental Instruction
SI is an academic assistance program that utilizes peer-assisted study sessions. SI sessions are regularly scheduled, informal review sessions in which students compare notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, and predict test items. Students learn how to integrate course content and study skills while working together. The sessions are facilitated by SI leaders, students who have previously done well in the course and who attend all class lectures, take notes and act as model students.
SI is a free service offered to all students in a targeted course. SI is a non-remedial approach to learning as the program targets high-risk courses rather than high-risk students. All students are encouraged to attend SI sessions, as it is a voluntary program. Students with varying levels of academic preparedness and diverse ethnicities participate. There is no remedial stigma attached to SI, since the program targets high-risk courses rather than high-risk students. The purpose of SI is to increase retention within targeted historically difficult courses; to improve student grades in targeted historically difficult courses; and to increase the graduation rates of students.
Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations
Center for Academic Success