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Peer mentoring programs help students meet goals
Do you ever feel like you need things explained in a different way, or maybe just by a different person? That concept is the premise behind Capital University’s Office of Academic Success and its latest effort to boost retention and help students succeed as they transition to college life. The Academic Success office, led by Bruce Epps, kicked off two programs in 2013 to provide additional support to students: peer academic advising and Supplemental Instruction (SI). The first complements the traditional faculty-student advising relationship by pairing first-year students with more experienced students who can walk them through sometimes overwhelming issues like course sequencing and navigating the registration system. This added option gives first-year students another layer of support as they transition from high school to college. The SI program embeds peer mentors, called SI leaders, into the classrooms of historically challenging courses – often in the areas of math and the natural science. Having already completed those courses, the SI leaders are able to serve as another resource for their peers, organizing student-led study and review sessions outside of the regularly scheduled classroom times.
In just the program’s second year, Epps and his team have seen strong participation rates and 0.63 higher grade point averages, ranging from half a grade point to a full grade point higher among students who take advantage of the program, for students who sought assistance compared to those who did not. “Since SI focuses less on content and more on helping students develop effective study strategies, it tends to benefit students not only in the supported courses, but in their other courses as well,” Epps explained. “In my experience, it’s one of the more well-established and meaningful forms of academic assistance available to students.”Success stories extend beyond first-year students to those who are transitioning from career back to college to complete their bachelor's degree. Ka Ren Steele is an adult learner who enrolled in Capital’s traditional undergraduate program after losing her job. Steele was a transfer student from Columbus State Community College, after receiving her associate’s degree, and was pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in exercise science. Part of her major’s coursework included a sequence of biology classes. Steele took advantage of the SI offering, which included study sessions in a group setting during regularly scheduled times twice per week. Even as an adult learner surrounded by traditional undergraduate students, she felt right at home. The SI leaders even accommodated her schedule, meeting with her one-on-one early mornings – before class started – if needed. At the end of the course, Steele earned an A, an accomplishment she did not feel was possible without engaging in the SI program. Learn more about the SI program, or other peer tutoring opportunities at Capital.