Budget cuts may lead to larger class sizes, increasing value to Supplemental Instructions

Sam Christie, Letter to the Editor

With larger class sizes caused by budget cuts becoming a real possibility at UW Oshkosh, you may be asking yourself, “How am I going to survive this coming semester? I barely survived my classes this semester!” Supplemental Instruction (SI) might just be the answer to your prayers!

As a freshman at UWO this year, I was looking for the most efficient way possible to study, learn the necessary material and keep my grades up. Attending SI sessions for my Geography 121 course helped me accomplish these goals.

SI sessions are essentially structured study sessions led by an “SI Leader.” SI leaders are people who have already taken the class, done exceptionally well and go on to receive extra training; they might even re-attend the course to become more familiar with the material.

SI leaders also meet with the professor of the course to discuss the material and create the best possible study session. These sessions often include diagrams, example problems, practice tests, worksheets and educational games like Kahoot!, which help simplify the material.

In my experience, this provided me with the best resources to study specifically for my quizzes and exams.
I immediately saw a huge improvement in my grades, going from F’s and D’s to A’s and B’s on quizzes and my first two exams.

During SI, I am able to ask questions about anything I don’t quite understand during lecture, be advised on what material I should be focusing most of my time on and, most importantly, the sessions are optional and free of charge.

If I understand everything in lecture, I am not obligated to attend SI. In my case, however, I try to attend every session because two one-hour sessions per week prepare me for quizzes and exams more than if I had studied ten hours a week on my own.

These SI sessions are offered for several challenging classes with large enrollments, so odds are you will likely encounter at least one in your college career. These are classes that historically have large numbers of students withdrawing or getting failing grades.

On average, people who attend eight or more sessions throughout the semester typically earn a half to a full letter grade better than their peers who do not attend any sessions.

Despite evidence showing that SI sessions are very beneficial, there are many students I know who are struggling in these classes, but continue not to attend SI because they think sessions are “a waste of time” or “won’t be any different than lecture,” but this simply is not true.

Despite larger class sizes and continued budget cuts, SI sessions can save you time, increase your GPA and teach you new study habits that can help you succeed. If you are a freshman or even an upperclassman and you have not taken advantage of this resource, I would highly recommend you give it a try.

You can find out if SI Sessions are available for your classes by checking the Center for Academic Resources page on the UWO website, your class syllabus or the first day of class you will be informed.