LSU senior Ariel Jones of New Roads, La., was the first recipient of the Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire Outstanding Supplemental Instruction Leader Award during the Center for Academic Success’ Supplemental Instruction, or SI, brunch on Jan. 14.
“Being an SI leader is not a job and it’s not an obligation – it is such a privilege – and I am just so honored to be awarded with this, especially in the name of Dr. McGuire because she has done so many things for this field of education,” Jones said. “I’m just so thankful and appreciative that I was recognized and really words cannot describe it.”
Jones, a double major in biochemistry and Spanish, plans to graduate from LSU in May 2015. She is also in the LSU Honors College and is a LA-STEM Research Scholar. She has been an SI leader for two semesters, serving as a leader in organic chemistry.
“Ariel has done an outstanding job of balancing a demanding academic load with her responsibilities as a SI leader,” Susan Saale, associate director for academic support for the Center for Academic Success, or CAS. “She is always looking for ways to make her sessions more meaningful for the students attending them while staying with the SI model centered around collaborative learning.”
Supplemental Instruction is an academic support program that utilizes peer-assisted study sessions. The purpose of SI is to increase retention, improve student grades, and academic performance within targeted historically difficult courses; and to increase the graduation rates of students.
Offered through the CAS and supported by the colleges, 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.
Jones said that the program helps students excel in their courses for a number of reasons. They are working with someone who has been through the class before and can provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t. The sessions also offer a more casual environment than the lectures, so students are free to express their concerns or ask questions. The environment also enhances friendships and the ability to create study groups.
“We’re not teaching the course, but teaching how they can be successful in the course,” Jones said.
Another benefit of SI is that while each session is focused on a particular course, the learning strategies and study skills being presented can be utilized in any course and can be carried forward through a student’s academic career.
“One of the great things about being an SI leader is that we’re in a position to be able to touch so many people’s lives and to really make a difference and not just for the time that we’re their SI leader, but we’re really making a difference as they move on to other courses,” Jones said.
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 regardless of whether they are doing well or poor in a course are encouraged to attend SI sessions, as it is a voluntary program.
Students with varying levels of academic preparedness and diverse ethnicities participate. LSU students who attend three or more SI sessions typically earn a 0.5 letter grade higher than students who do not attend and can be retained at up to 24 percent higher rates than students who don’t attend.
Jones said, “It’s a unique program. Not all universities have the funds to do a program like this. At LSU for us, not only to have this program but to also have it free and available to students, it’s just really great and so I really hope students look into it and take advantage of it.”
CAS created the Dr. Saundra Yancy McGuire Supplemental Instruction Leader Award in honor of the accomplishments and the impact that McGuire has had on the center, the LSU community and students. This is awarded to an SI leader who embodies key characteristics displayed by McGuire: leadership, service, scholarship, and love of learning and teaching.
McGuire retired from LSU on June 30, 2013, after serving the university for 14 years. For 10 of those years she served as the director of the Center for Academic Success, a unit that received national and international acclaim during her tenure as director, and continues to garner accolades and awards.
During the Center for Academic Success’ Supplemental Instruction Brunch, Jones received the award of $200; McGuire was welcomed back to campus; and Timothy Scott, associate dean for undergraduate programs and development for the College of Science at Texas A&M, delivered the keynote address.
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 including tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, 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.
For more information, visit http://cas.lsu.edu/.
About the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program
The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program is funded by NSF and the Louisiana Board of Regents and managed by the Office of Strategic Initiatives at LSU.
LA-STEM admits students who show great potential to succeed in STEM areas at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and who have distinguished themselves as scholars and leaders. The Office of Strategic Initiatives looks for students who are committed to promoting diversity in the sciences in their undergraduate and graduate careers. Students are required to maintain the highest of academic standards to remain in the program. They also exemplify a strong dedication to mentoring, enthusiasm for diverse cultural experiences and a passion for serving the community. For more information on LA-STEM at LSU, visit http://www.lsu.edu/lastem/.