During UMKC’s shift to a public institution in 1963, the University noticed that seemingly bright students were not thriving in certain courses.
They gave Dr. Deanna Martin, a graduate student at the time, the task of solving this problem. She came to realize that the students were not the problem, but the coursework itself was difficult.
After a tremendous amount of research, Martin founded “The Supplemental Instruction (SI) Department” in 1973. The program targeted historically difficult coursework, instead of the students themselves.
The SI department has essentially morphed and substantially grown throughout the years, by enabling students to support other students. They already have a professional within the course but SI allows a different outlook by using students that have previously taken the course to assist.
“When I was an SI leader at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), my course was Math but I was a Sociology major,” said Jessica Elam, UMKC’s SI Coordinator. “I don’t like Math, I’m not good at it, but I got an A, and that’s why they hired me. Despite not liking it, despite feeling I’m not good at it, I got an A. I might not have been a great Math student, but I was a great student!”
Students like Elam are exactly who the program is seeking. They want individuals who know how to succeed no matter what they are facing.
“What we provide them in SI is transferable skills, and connections to see that students can do this on their own even if the SI leader is not there,” Elam said. “So at heart, SI is a retention program. It’s not necessarily getting you through one difficult class. It is helping students be retained at the University.”
Students who would like to become a leader or need help can visit the main office of the department is located on the second floor in the Atterbury Student Success Center. There will also be an International Conference on May 25-27. For details on the conference, you can visit the Supplemental Instruction website.