SI program leads to high passing rates

By Katelyn Needham/ editor-in-chief

Learning from other college students leads to high passing rates in difficult courses, according to a presentation to TCC’s board of trustees.

Academic affairs associate vice chancellor Nancy Cure discussed the continuing success of the supplemental instruction sessions during the April 20 board meeting.

Students who attended SI sessions had a passing rate of 76 percent while students who didn’t had a passing rate of 58 percent, according to data collected by Cure from last fall.

TCC based its program’s principals on the original SI program developed in 1973 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Cure said.

The program uses peer tutoring to help students retain knowledge and succeed in courses, she said.

“An SI leader is someone who has completed the course,” she said. “They go in the next semester, attend the class with students and then determine what the students are getting and maybe not getting. Then they go back and develop lesson plans and present their own sessions.”

The program started on South and NW campuses in 2015 and has since been introduced to all five campuses, Cure said.

Courses are chosen for the SI program based on enrollment numbers, difficulty and failure rate.

“As the program has grown, we have added courses based on faculty and student interest,” she said. “We started with 113 sections and a little bit over 3,200 course enrollments. The number of courses has grown just like the number of enrollment has.”

The program now offers 149 sections and has enrolled over 3,900 students.

Participation in the program is at 40 percent compared to the national average of 30 percent, she said.

Over 1,500 students have participated in SI sessions with over 10,000 visits.

“I managed to sign up for two fast-track math courses,” SE student Maria Nicolas said about her SI experience. “He [her SI leader] was there to help us after each class session. If I didn’t understand the material, he would teach me a different way, and if I thought I understood, he would quiz me.”

Nicolas hopes to see more SI leaders in other courses she takes.

She returned to college after 17 years of working with a mail-order pharmacy.

“But along with his help, he showed me respect and treated me like my peers,” she said. “He is my reinforcement and confidence. I gained knowledge and a new friend.”

NW student Alikhan Fidai, a supplemental instructor for a biology course, has worked in the SI program for four semesters.

“My first bio class in four years, I sat down and some guy goes up to the front of the class and tells us that he is the SI leader,” Fidai said. “I attended SI sessions and attending regularly gave me access to materials and confidence in the classroom.”

Fadai applied to be an SI leader after that semester.

“The SI program has made a huge impact on my life,” he said. “I feel like it has helped me develop personally and professionally as well. I can add humor and levity to conversation. I have learned to work smarter not harder.”

In other news, the board approved over $2 million to go toward an energy and technology center on South Campus as well as $1 million toward new chillers for the campus.

“I think we are cutting edge in terms of what we do as a district,” real estate and facilities vice chancellor Nina Petty said. “We do a lot of interfacing with other districts to see what they are doing, and we also spend a lot of time designing and planning.”

The board also announced NW will receive a donated fire truck from the city of Grapevine.

Board of trustees vice president Conrad Heede led the effort to get the second truck. He estimates the truck to be valued at around $150,000.

“I think those fire trucks are worth over a million dollars brand new,” Heede said. “[NW president] Dr. [Elva] LeBlanc put that on her wish list for many, many years. I asked her for the specifications, and then I took it to my fire chief, and he says that they had exactly that vehicle.”