Academic fund provides supplemental student support

On a yard sign outside Jardine Hall, an 8-bit WuShock recommends to students, “It’s dangerous to study alone, go to SI!” Another on the sidewalk by Shocker Hall shows a complicated equation, the text below reading, “If you don’t understand this, go to SI!”

If you’ve visited campus in the last few years, you may have noticed this crop of mini billboards pointing students toward supplemental instruction (SI) in the Shocker Learning Center (SLC). This strategy was, in large part, made possible through the Patricia and John Morgan Academic Advancement Fund through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Since 2014, the fund has provided nearly $449,000 to Wichita State that has dramatically improved supplemental instruction for tutors and students alike.

“Before we opened the Shocker Learning Center in the fall of 2018, we had supplemental instruction and tutoring services scattered across campus,” said Heidi Rodrick, Assistant Director for the Office of Student Success. “It was disjointed. We had a very small space down in the bottom of Hubbard Hall where SI leaders would come in and drop off their attendance sheets, but we didn’t have an actual space where students could learn from each other and have that community and collaboration amongst the staff.”

Now located on the first floor of Lindquist Hall, the SLC has become a hub for student community, as well as a launch pad for many students’ future careers. “When you become an SI leader, you have the opportunity to grow your leadership skills and develop as a professional,” said Rodrick. “We really emphasize customer service; if a student doesn’t know an answer, they never leave it at, ‘Sorry, I don’t know.’ We prioritize helping students find the answers.”

For students pursuing a career in education, becoming an SI leader provides them with the real-world experience of teaching other students. From preparing lesson plans to coordinating study sessions, a position in the SLC is an optimal applied learning experience – right in the heart of campus.

“First-year and sophomore students, especially first-generation students, they don’t know what they don’t know,” said Rodrick. “It’s all about taking away that stigma behind not knowing, behind asking for help, behind getting help. Our goal is to make this a comfortable and welcoming environment.”

Feedback from students is overwhelmingly positive. “[My SI leader] does a great job at further explaining everything that may have been lost in translation during the lecture,” reports one student. Another says of his leader, “He makes sure we are comfortable, and he challenges us. I don’t know how I’d do in the class without him.”

Support from the Patricia and John Morgan Fund helps promote SI as a student resource and ensures that student leaders are compensated for their time. As a result, more freshmen and sophomore students are overcoming the hurdle of asking for help. By attending SI sessions, they build better study habits, create a community on campus and receive the academic support they need to complete college successfully.

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