How does SI work?
For each target course, an SI leader – an upper class student who previously took the same course and did well in it – is selected to lead weekly study sessions outside the regular class time. The SI leader attends all the regular class meetings and then based on the content for that week, develops interactive discussions. During the weekly SI sessions, the SI leader acts as a facilitator rather than a tutor. The leader lays the foundation for the discussion, and then supports the students in working through the material with each other. This collaborative learning environment lets each student strengthen his/her own understanding of the concepts and applications while contributing to the learning of the entire group. The SI leader works closely with the professor teaching the course to ensure the sessions follow his/her guidelines for collaborative learning. The program directors meet with all the SI leaders weekly to discuss progress and concerns, share best practices and explain new techniques.
The SI program benefits not only the students in the target courses but also the SI leaders and faculty. The SI leaders develop a higher level of understanding for the material by reviewing it with their peers, plus they hone their presentation and communication skills in a professional environment. The faculty enjoy having another resource to refer students to!
The SI model comes from our colleagues at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, who have been using it and training hundreds of other colleges in it since 1973. SI was piloted in the Winter 2011 term at Union, and was briefly known as Facilitated Learning Groups (FLG).
Who runs SI?
Kristen Fanfarelli, Director of Academic Achievement, manages the SI program. She is happy to answer your questions about SI.