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Leading the Way in SI

Center to Help Boost Student Success Across CSU
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Cal State Fullerton’s Philip Janowicz, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, knows firsthand the difficulties some students have in making the grade in his rigorous organic chemistry course.

He also knows that with a little help from their peers through the Supplemental Instruction Program, these students can achieve academic success and earn that college diploma.

The Chancellor’s Office has recognized CSUF’s Supplemental Instruction Program as a model for other California State University campuses in an effort to boost student success. To expand the program systemwide, the University is serving as a CSU Center of Excellence for Supplemental Instruction with Janowicz appointed to serve as the center’s interim director.

Supplemental Instruction, an initiative of the CSU Course Redesign with Technology program, offers students enrolled in historically difficult courses extra academic support through peer-led study sessions.

The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics launched SI in 2007 to strenthen academic achievement in gateway math and biology courses; and today, the effort has been expanded to other colleges and courses, including accounting, psychology and political science. The CSU and the center are partnering with the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), which developed SI in 1973, for training and instructional materials.

Janowicz, a member of CSUF’s SI team and chemistry faculty liaison, has led CSU webinars and site visits, and piloted a SI course redesign project. He discusses leading the charge to support other campuses with SI training and information for the greater success of students across the CSU.

What does it mean to be a Center of Excellence?

We’re proselytizing SI to other CSUs. Our campus is a leader in SI and its impact has been well documented with proven results. Students are earning higher grades, persisting in their majors and graduating. This unprecedented partnership between the CSU and UMKC will serve as both a model program and help to strengthen data collection.

Why is the center needed?

The center is serving as a catalyst to expand SI to other CSU campuses. SI exists at some campuses, such as CSU Fresno, San Marcos and Humboldt, while other campuses may not be aware of the program. My role is to bring campuses together to share ideas and resources, and devise a system to collect the same data to collectively see the effects of SI across the CSU.

What have you accomplished so far?

I’ve trained faculty at CSU San Diego, East Bay, Los Angeles and San Bernardino to get their SI programs established. Trainings also are being scheduled for Chico, Sonoma State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the upcoming months. Additionally, SI student leaders from Cal State Fullerton have been training their CSU peers to become SI instructors. We’re also looking into offering SI online, modeled after the success of CSU San Marcos. This fall, we’re piloting supporting a precalculus course through online supplemental instruction at CSUF.

What are you enjoying most?

In this new role, I feel like I’m able to give back more. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Fullerton’s amazing SI team and help make an impact on our campus for all students. To help make an impact across the state, instead of just one campus, is a daunting task, but it’s invigorating at the same time. I have the opportunity to touch the academic and professional lives of thousands of students across California.