Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Using Supplemental Instruction to Bridge the Transition from Secondary to Tertiary Education

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Using Supplemental Instruction to Bridge the Transition from Secondary to Tertiary Education

Article excerpt


Supplemental Instruction (SI) is today a well known academic assistance program, providing help for students in "difficult" courses at colleges and universities. Little attention has been paid however to the possibility of also implementing the SI program in upper secondary school. In this study we present qualitative results from such an SI program in a Swedish setting. Here, students from the faculty of engineering at Lund University, act as SI leaders at eleven upper secondary schools in the local region, in subjects such as math, physics and chemistry. The main conclusion is that the SI methodology also seems to work in an upper secondary school environment. The students who attend SI regularly appear to obtain new study strategies to increase their understanding of the subject, besides improving on general skills such as teamwork, communicating on a subject, and making presentations in front of others. There are several advantages for the schools and university involved. For example they gain a formal and an informal link, which can prove useful in many circumstances when an exchange of information is needed, and both can use SI as a means to boost recruitment. For the upper secondary school, the students can get an alternative view on subjects, which hopefully stimulates interest and understanding. The students also get a more mature role model to turn to. For the university an additional advantage is that a more informal view of what it is like to study at university can be provided to upper secondary school students.

Keywords: supplemental instruction, upper secondary school, science, engineering

1. Introduction

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is used at many universities around the world to improve results in difficult courses, and to develop the students' study strategies (Martin 2008; Hurley Jacobs and Gilbert 2006). SI is based on collaborative learning with an older student as facilitator, and has repeatedly been shown to give positive results for all kinds of courses in different settings (Blanc et al., 1983; Burmeister, Kenney, and Nice, 1996; Congos and Schoeps, 1993; Hensen and Shelley, 2003; Malm, Bryngfors and Mörner, 2011; Ogden, Thompson, Russell, and Simons, 2003; Packham and Miller, 2000; Power and Dunphy, 2010; Ramirez, 1997; Rye, Wallace, and Bidgood, 1993; Sawyer, Sylvestre, Girard, and Snow, 1996; Webster and Hooper, 1998; Wright, Wright, and Lamb, 2002). It should be of interest to see whether SI also works at a lower educational level than tertiary education. The advantages can however be more than just increasing examination results and improving the students study strategies, for instance there is the creation of a link between secondary and tertiary education, using university students as SI leaders in upper secondary school. In this way, upper secondary school students gain a personal view of tertiary education and what is required for study at this level. The upper secondary schools can use the collaboration with the university in their recruitment information. The university benefits in a similar way by creating interest in higher level studies, within the upper secondary school, by the informal meeting between a university student and the school students.

At the faculty of engineering at Lund University, Sweden, such a cooperation was created in 2007 and today includes eleven upper secondary schools in the local region. There are several potential advantages to the cooperation, besides those mentioned above. For the faculty of engineering they include

*Creating an interest in science and technology in upper secondary school

*Targeting upper secondary schools in areas where people with tertiary education are uncommon

*Academic leadership experience for university students

For the upper secondary school the additional advantages include

*Creating an extra learning opportunity in difficult courses like math, physics and chemistry

*Developing study strategies for students, such as increased abilities for collaboration, discussion, viewing fellow students as resources in a learning perspective, and developing the students responsibility for their own learning

*Giving students an insight into what it is like to study at university through the informal meetings with the university student

The objective of this article is partly to describe how the SI program works in an upper secondary school environment, since this is a new implementation. …

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