Q&A: Talking With An Online SI Leader

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Photographs courtesy of UIS LEARNING HUB

The UIS Learning Hub’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program offers small group study sessions led by an SI Leader, which is a student who has previously passed the class. The purpose of SI is to give students a learning resource specific to their class. As a result of switching to remote learning, SI sessions have adjusted to helping students virtually. Hailey Fry is currently the SI Leader for BIO 201. Fry was interviewed by The Journal’s Hayley Payne via Zoom.  

 

What was a normal day in the office like before switching to remote learning? 

I held my sessions in a classroom setting. I have four SI sessions a week, plus my office hours. I would make worksheets ahead of time so I could just hand it [sic] to the students as they came in. I would let the students come up and ask any questions or go over the worksheet answers. Students always came in and out of the sessions. Some come in and stay the whole time and some only come in and ask one question. It just depends. 

What is a normal day like for your online sessions?  

I still make worksheets. I host a Zoom call during the normal time of my sessions. It’s pretty laid back because I let the students ask any questions they have. I email the worksheets to everyone on the Zoom call or I email it to anyone who asks for it.  

What was it like transitioning to online SI sessions? 

Stressful. Very Stressful. I didn’t have anything prepared for the first Zoom session because I didn’t know what the students expected from me. I went ahead and used that first session to ask them what they wanted out of the sessions. The Learning Hub was very lenient and patient with us when we had to switch to online. They let us choose the time of our sessions and how many we would have per week. 

Do you feel most students are using all the SI resources since switching to online classes? 

No, I don’t think so. They aren’t using all the resources that they could be using. I wanted to make sure that I’m still taking the time to make worksheets so it’s [sic] there for students to use. I think that these worksheets really help students learn the material and study for tests and quizzes. With that being said, I hope students are using them, because they have the resources to be successful in their class.  

Do you prefer SI sessions online or in person? 

I’d say in person. When you’re in person, it’s straightforward and I get to see the students. I miss interacting with the students and seeing their faces to know if they understand or not. I feel a little awkward explaining answers to my computer rather than to an actual student. I also miss the Learning Hub staff, because they are so much fun to be around and they make my job a lot of fun, too.  

Do you think students learn better when they are taking on-ground classes or online classes? 

Personally, I like on-ground classes. I am very much a hands-on and visual learner, so I like being in the classroom. I also think it’s easier to ask your teachers questions when you’re in person rather than online. Students have to have a lot of self-discipline when it comes to online classes, so that can make learning hard.