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SI for Students

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is SI?
The University Learning Center (ULC) works in close collaboration with faculty and various academic departments at CSUF. Supplemental Instruction is an academic assistance program which provides weekly, peer-led group study sessions for students taking historically difficult courses (those with high D, F or W rates).

SI sessions are led by a SI leader who has already mastered the course material and has been trained to facilitate group sessions where students can meet to improve their understanding of course material, review and discuss important concepts, develop study strategies and prepare for exams. SI is provided for all students who want to improve their understanding of course material and improve their grades; it is not just for those students who are struggling.

Attendance at SI sessions is free and voluntary. Students may attend as many times as they choose. SI sessions begin the second week of class and continue throughout the semester.

What's an SI Leader?
Have you ever wished you could do something over, knowing what you know now? That's impossible, but you can come close in SI. SI leaders are students themselves and are prepared to share with you what they have learned over the years about how to study. They know the course content and are anxious to help guide you through it. They'll be in class with you every day, hearing what you hear and reading what you read. What they won't do is lecture; their job is to help you think about the lectures you hear and the books you read, and then put it all together during SI review sessions so you can learn it more efficiently.

What can I expect at an SI session?
The best way to answer this question is to first explain what not to expect: do not expect another lecture. The SI leaders are not teaching assistant or graduate assistants and are not employed by the professor. Do not expect to get "all the answers" or have the SI leaders do your thinking for you.

SI leaders will not give you their class notes, nor will they do your homework for you. Most importantly, SI leaders will not encourage last-minute cramming for an exam.

What you can expect is that your SI leader will facilitate group study (SI sessions) filled with activities and projects to get you actively involved with the course content outside of class. You can expect to work with course material and resources to help you study and learn.

Think of SI as guaranteed study time. Since each SI session is led by a peer student who has already taken the targeted course and knows what to expect, you can expect your SI leader to share the strategies he/she used to be successful in the course. Your SI leader will help you make effective use of your study time.

Look at it this way: you have to study anyway. You might as well do it with friends—your classmates—along with an SI leader who will guide your study efforts. You can expect a lot of personal interaction.

What is expected of me during an SI session?
Because of all the personal interaction during SI sessions, you are expected to come prepared to study. This means you should always bring your textbook, lecture notes, and any questions or problems you may have. Doing so guarantees the best use of your time during SI.

Of course, you are expected to attend class meeting and lectures. SI is academic support for the course; it is not an opportunity for you to skip class. Lastly, you are expected to attend SI on a weekly basis. National SI research indicates that students who regularly attend SI perform better on exams and earn higher final course grades.

What happens during a typical SI session?
A typical SI session has several interactive activities and offers study skill strategies specific to the course, such as comparison/contrast charts, incomplete outlines, note-taking exercise, test-taking strategies, resource tips and mock exams. A typical SI session will always include a clarification of lecture notes, discussion of lectures and textbook readings, and a review of key course concepts as well as the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Is SI a remedial program?
No. SI is not remedial for following reasons:
• SI targets high-risk courses rather than high-risk students.
• All students enrolled in SI-supported courses are invited and encouraged to attend – not just those who are struggling.
• SI starts with the first day of classes and continues to the end of the term.
• Studies show that students of all academic and learning abilities and levels benefit from participating in SI sessions, and earn on average a half to full grade higher than those who do not participate.

How does SI work?
SI leaders have already taken the targeted courses and are chosen based on their demonstrated competency (earning an A or B in the course) as well as faculty recommendations.

Starting with the second week of classes, SI leaders offer two or more regularly scheduled SI sessions that are held in designated classrooms on campus. SI study group sessions meet throughout the semester on the same day, at the same time and in the same location.

Each SI session combines key course content and study skill strategies specific to the course that highlight not only what to learn, but also how to learn. While we encourage students to supplement their independent study with a weekly hour of SI, you are free to attend as often as you like. As SI sessions follow lectures, each session covers different material.

SI goes beyond "group tutoring" as it is a learning enhancement program to help students learn better in traditionally difficult courses.

What's in it for me?
If you attend SI sessions regularly, chances are you'll earn a better grade. Research shows that those students who attend SI sessions regularly average on half to one full letter grade higher than their classmates who choose not to attend. When you attend SI, you'll develop a better understanding of course content as well as more effective ways of studying. You'll even make new friends too!

When do SI sessions start?
SI sessions always start during the second week of classes. Your SI leader will announce and distribute information regarding the days, times and location of upcoming SI study sessions.

Remember: the secret of college success is to study proactively. Do not wait until the night before a test to study. Attend SI early and often throughout the semester. Since you have to study anyway, why not come to SI and make effective, efficient use of your study time?

How much does SI cost?
SI sessions are free to all CSUF students. The only thing we ask for in return is your time and effort. Come as often as you like, but keep in mind that SI statistics show the more you attend SI, the better your grade.

If I did not start attending SI sessions at the beginning of the semester, can I still attend later?
Absolutely! Better late than never. But remember: SI is here to help you study proactively, on a regular basis. Each SI session follows the lecture content, so never assume you can cram weeks of study into one or two SI sessions. SI is here for you when you need it, but it works best when you use it as continual group review to maximize your study potential.