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CSU Funding to Help Boost Student Achievement

Cal State Fullerton's Supplemental Instruction Expands to Serve More Students

Feb. 25, 2014

Mark S. Filowitz and Martin V. Bonsangue

Mark S. Filowitz, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Martin V. Bonsangue, professor of mathematics, have been campus leaders for supplemental instruction, shown to improve student success.

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Campus leaders championing supplemental instruction to help students succeed are excited about the future possibilities for the program — shown to bolster academic performance and retention in science and math disciplines.
The reason: Through the Chancellor's Office's initiatives to strengthen student achievement, Cal State Fullerton's Supplemental Instruction program, known as SI, has received $458,000 in funding, making it possible to advance the program on the Fullerton and CSUF Irvine campuses.
"Supplemental instruction began on campus in 2007 and has been funded through different sources. But now with the Chancellor's Office support to institutionalize SI on our campus, we can focus our efforts on improving and expanding the program," said Mark S. Filowitz, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
The Chancellor’s Office is actively supporting efforts to address ways to increase student success in so-called "bottleneck" and gateway courses. Bottleneck courses historically have high non-success rates and slow the process toward graduation.
The efforts include "proven and promising practices" practiced at different CSUs throughout the state. Approaches such as "flipped" classrooms and peer-led team learning and SI are being shared with sister institutions, explained Martin V. Bonsangue, professor of mathematics, a longtime supporter of SI for math.
"SI at CSUF involves a team of dedicated students, faculty, staff and administrators who are committed to strengthening student success in key gateway courses. SI also is effectively and directly addressing CSUF's strategic plan goal No. 2," said Bonsangue, which is to "improve student persistence, increase graduation rates Universitywide, and narrow the achievement gap for underrepresented students."
As a result of the CSU funding, a full-time coordinator has been hired to oversee administrative duties and other efforts to further develop the program to meet the needs of students. The SI program also is now centralized under the University Learning Center, rather than in the colleges or departments.
"My goal is to see supplemental instruction become part of the overall culture at Cal State Fullerton," said Trista O'Connell, supplemental instruction coordinator.
The number of courses supported by the peer-led instructional sessions has increased significantly, expanding this spring to include an array of bottleneck courses in business, computer science, engineering and the humanities.
This academic year, 224 course sections are supported by supplemental instruction, compared to 140 course sections in 2012-13, said O'Connell, who also is a lecturer in American studies. Additionally, the program's corps of student leaders who facilitate instructional sessions increased to 75 students this spring semester.
As part of the CSU efforts to share proven practices, the CSU recently videotaped an orientation session for new SI student leaders and interviewed CSUF program leaders, as well as CSU science and math faculty members who came to CSUF to learn how to implement SI on their campuses. The video will be used as an instructional tool systemwide as a "proven and promising practice."
"We've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into our SI program," said Philip Janowicz, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who spearheaded SI in gateway chemistry courses. "SI has helped our students so much, so to be able to share our proven practices with the rest of the system is an honor." 

More information about supplement instruction is available by visiting the University Learning Center


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