THECB Recognition of Excellence
The TWU SIT (Supplemental Instruction/Tutoring) Program, developed over the past three years with support from four Comprehensive Student Success Program (CSSP) grants awarded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), has been recognized by the THECB as a Program of Excellence. The program is designed to increase success rates of students in selected mathematics and science courses with traditionally high failure rates. Dr. Don Edwards, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science served as PI for the grants, and Dr. Bev Carlsen-Landy served as the primary architect and Coordinator for the highly successful SIT program. They presented to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board at the July 23, 2015 meeting in Austin where they discussed the program and its successes, and they received the Recognition of Excellence.
The TWU CSSP focused on improving student success in gateway courses starting in academic year 2012-13. For the first year, the program worked with College Algebra, Introduction to Statistics, and Introduction to Chemistry. In fall of 2013, Microbiology was included in the TWU CSSP. The primary goal of the SIT program is to raise student success rates in classes with traditionally high rates of Ds, Fs, and Ws through the use of mandatory supplemental instruction and other interventions. The program is designed to look holistically at students and help them mitigate their risk factors including academic, financial, social, and emotional risks.
Through continuous formal and informal feedback the TWU CSSP was evaluated using qualitative and quantitative methods and the program was adjusted to better meet the needs of TWU students. The original TWU CSSP is now known as S.I.T. which stands for a hybrid model of supplemental instruction and tutoring with about 40 minutes of SI and 10 minutes of tutoring in each session. Many of the techniques and activities used in the development of the TWU hybrid model, SIT, were adapted from the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. SIT sessions are held outside of class time and employ Course Assistants (CAs) to mentor and lead peer-to-peer study sessions which focus on the most challenging concepts covered during class that week. The successes and growth of the program have exceeded expectations. The program is highly regarded, and students actively seek out courses supported by supplemental instruction. Overall, GPAs from 4 previous semesters (since fall 2013) for students served by the program have exceeded those of students in the control (non-CSSP) sections from academic year 2013-2014.
The Program, which initially served approximately 220 students per semester in three STEM courses, served an average of 1000 students in 14 sections of four STEM courses during the final year of the CSSP grants. In addition to training and supervising more than 20 students who work as course assistants and course assistant mentors, Dr. Carlsen-Landy met with students who were at-risk academically or had other risk factors such as financial, social, or emotional. She worked to connect students to needed support services across the TWU community. During the one-to-one meetings she helped students develop strategies to be more successful in their current and future classes.
SIT focuses on identifying students with risk factors early in the semester by monitoring academic progress and being alert to other risk factors. Students in SIT-supported courses are required to attend four SIT sessions per semester. If a student’s class average falls below 70%, then he or she is required to attend additional SIT sessions and meet with the program coordinator.
During 2014-15, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Carlsen-Landy created an online toolkit to assist other institutions in designing and implementing supplemental instruction program and to consider adopting a holistic approach to student success.