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SI and Study Groups Educator and Staff FAQ

Professional staff are always available to answer educators or staff questions, receive feedback about students' SI or Study Group experience, or listen to ideas on how to improve the program. Educators or staff may also request SI or Study Group for courses where they are currently not offered. You can reach the SI and Study Group Program staff by sending an e-mail to aah@ucsd.edu

What are SI and Study Groups?

Supplemental Instruction (SI) and the Study Group program support students enrolled in courses that have been typically challenging and/or foundational to their majors. The sessions promote students working as a community of learners and active engagement in study skills and strategies to master the content knowledge. Undergraduate students are hired as facilitators of the sessions. Their formal titles are Leaders. These students receive initial training in facilitation techniques and collaborative learning strategies with a initial 10-hour training over two days and weekly follow-up trainings during the quarter. We reguarly invite faculty for which we are supporting their course to our trainings to observe and understand the program.

How are SI and Study Groups different?

Both the Study Group and SI sessions are facilitated by Peer Leaders who have already successfully completed the course at UC San Diego and are trained in collaborative learning techniques. The Leaders for SI are required to attend each lecture each week of the quarter whereas the Leaders for Study Groups only attend lecture once per week. We work with the instructors to determine what would be the best option for lecture attendance of our Leaders. Additionally, a difference between these programs resides in the session meeting structure. For example, SI sessions are three 50-minute sessions per week. While the Study Group session meets one time per week for 80-minutes. The Leaders are all trained to promote community of learners and an environment to master course material. 

How can I inform my students about the SI and Study Group Program?

There a number of ways you can inform your students about the option of participating in SI or Study Groups:

  • Provide a link on the course web site to the AAH main web page. 
  • Instructors may make an announcement about the SI or Study Group program during class.
  • The AAH can provide the instructor and/or staff with slides that highlight important SI or Study Group information, or we can send a program representative to speak briefly to the class about the groups. To request either option, e-mail aah@ucsd.edu
  • Inform course TAs about the program and encourage them to make announcements in their discussion sections.
  • Refer students to the program during office hour appointments.

Do Course Instructors and SI/Study Group Facilitators interact during the term?

We respect faculty time and therefore try to limit unnecessary contact between Leaders and course instructors. However, we do encourage instructors to interact with the Leaders, if they wish. For example, some instructors may ask the Leader to meet with them and their TAs in their weekly meetings or at a minimum, meet with the Leader at the beginning of the term to provide an overview of the course. The SI and Study Group Program staff may contact you throughout the term with important program information. Leaders additionally may speak with you prior to or following lecture to update you on how students are managing content in their sessions.

Why do SI and Study Group Leaders need access to my course website or other online tools?

Leaders are expected to promote small group learning through engaging facilitation. It is important for them to be current with the course content and schedule by having access to the course syllabus and content notes that you may put on your learning management site. This helps the SI and Study Group Leaders to prepare for their sessions. Leaders gain credibility if they are aware of what is current in the course, which provides the Leaders the opportunity to ensure their sessions are relevant and timely. 

How can SI or Study Group be requested if it is not currently offered for a course?

To request SI or Study Group for a course, please e-mail us at aah@ucsd.edu. The SI and Study Group Program Staff will evaluate the request and the feasibility of offering additional groups. We often meet one-on-one with the faculty and/or department to learn more about the course and the needs for academic support. It is ideal to request SI before the start of the term, but requests will be accepted at any point in the term. While the AAH would like to honor all requests, it may not be possible in all cases. In this case, we will work to create support in the interim.

What feedback have educators provided about the SI and Study Group Program?

  • I have had the pleasure of having the support of the SI Leaders inside and outside of my course this half of a year. I have noticed a significant difference in students’ questions; both quantity and quality, as well as a much friendlier atmosphere in the lecture and between the students themselves. -- Physics Instructor
  • To myself and many students, the games and puzzles actually provide a fresh approach to challenging concepts in mathematics and allow students to view mathematics with a more positive outlook. -- Math Instructor
  • I wish all Instructors for all courses that are perceived as difficult by the students were able to get this type (SI) of support — it is extremely beneficial to both me as an Instructor and to the students taking the course. Clearly, it helped students get a higher grade in the course. -- Engineering Instructor

Who facilitates the SI and Study Groups?

SI and Study Group Leaders are undergraduate students who have successfully completed the course in a previous term who are trained in collaborative learning and facilitation techniques. Their primary responsibility is to help participants work together and learn from each other. Leaders do not teach, tutor or lecture. Leaders are hired at the beginning of the academic year, or term, as the need arises.

Who should participate in SI or Study Groups?

All students enrolled in the course are eligible to attend SI or Study Group sessions. Students of all ability levels are encouraged to participate. SI and Study Groups provide a great opportunity to have a set study time each week and the opportunity to work with peers to master course material. However, it may not be a fit for all students. Students should participate if they are interested in working each week with their peers, are willing to actively participate in meetings, and enjoy studying in a small group environment.

SI and Study Groups help students learn the material in a deeper, more concrete way. Sessions that are effective generate positive energy, encourage active participation, teaches discipline, and requires commitment from participants. These skills are all important criteria for life-long learning. These learning skills are transferrable to other courses and/or content.