College of Coastal Georgia News

Supplemental Instructors Reinforce Their Own Learning By Helping Student Peers
Posted 05/29/2018 10:26AM

One of the main resources at the College of Coastal Georgia designed to help students reach their full potential is the Academic Tutoring and Instruction Center, known as "The ATTIC."

The Academic Tutoring and Instruction Center, known as "The ATTIC" at the College of Coastal Georgia helps students reach their full potential.

The ATTIC provides academic support to all students through in-person tutoring, free online tutoring, and placing supplemental instructors in difficult classes with a high risk for withdrawal or grades of D or F. High-performing students work as tutors and supplemental instructors, helping their peers understand coursework. It is these students, in particular supplemental instructors, who continue to be recognized for their academic accomplishments and contributions to the College.

Supplemental instruction is a proactive academic support program intended to facilitate student learning and promote good study habits. The instructors are students who have previously completed and earned a high grade in the class in which they are assigned to help. Instructors attend each class period with students, take notes, and complete assigned readings. They then hold review session for students in that class.

At the recent Honors Day ceremony in April, which recognized students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, 25 of the awarded students were supplemental instructors. Supplemental instructors Amanda Pierson earned the Provost's Award of Excellence and Cassandra McCullough was recognized as the Georgia Outstanding Scholar.

"Working as a supplemental instructor or tutor, when you teach someone you have to break down the material and it reinforces your own learning," said Nikki Schmauch, coordinator of Academic Services, who created the supplemental instructor program in 2009. "That's the exciting thing. The experience reinforces the supplemental instructor's learning and makes them an even stronger student."

When Schmauch started the program in 2009, four classes had supplemental instructors. Now there are close to 50 supplemental instructors on staff. Schmauch said the program has grown over the years and is now a part of the fabric of the College.

Supplemental instruction is a proactive academic support program for students.

"Our supplemental instructors have done so well," Schmauch said. "They're keeping their grades up, have all these activities they're involved in, plus helping all the students. It's impressive that they're willing to give of their time. We're really proud of them."

Schmauch talked of former instructors continuing their education in medical school and those who have been offered jobs immediately after graduating from the College.

Supplemental instructors also form a special relationship with students in the classes they're assigned to and help communicate students' concerns to the faculty member teaching the class.

"The faculty member may never know something is an issue with students until a supplemental instructor brings it to their attention," Schmauch said. "Students are more apt to talk with the SI [supplemental instructor] than to the faculty member. They trust him or her more, which is another reason why it works."

Supplemental instructors hold review sessions with students in their classes during the week. If a student isn't able to attend a session, the supplemental instructor can accommodate that student to meet at another time. Many supplemental instructors also work as tutors and have their own tutoring hours where any student can drop in for help.

"Most of the time the SI has already taken the same class with the same professor, so they can draw upon their own knowledge and experience with the subject material to help answer questions from class," said Gary Strysick, Academic Services specialist.

Students are highly encouraged to take advantage of the extra help provided by the College. According to Strysick, data shows that if a student attends his or her supplemental instructor's session more than eight times a semester—once every other week—the student can move up a whole letter grade versus someone who does not.

"It's a very effective program, and a lot of that results from our instructors," Strysick said.

Students can find a supplemental instructor, tutor, or free online tutoring at The ATTIC's website or on Desire 2 Learn (D2L).

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