What is SLG?
Supported Learning Groups (SLG) are student-led study sessions designed to help you succeed in a course and to help you improve your study skills and become a successful student at UFV. Whether you're looking for that A+, just have a question, are struggling to pass, or simply want to study in a group, SLG is for you.
- Increase course engagement.
- Increase retention in the course.
- Decrease school and course drop-out levels.
- Develop new ways to study.
- Develop a network of friends and a support group to discuss material with.
The Five Basic Principles
- Supports historically difficult courses and not at-risk students
- Student facilitated study/review sessions
- Trained student leaders introduce learning and study strategies applied directly to the course content
- Offered to all students enrolled in targeted courses
- Regularly scheduled, outside of class hours, voluntary and anonymous
How Supported Learning Works
Supported Learning Groups, also known as supplemental instruction (SI), are student-led study skills and learning strategy sessions designed to increase student success in historically-difficult courses. SI was created at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is the non-remedial approach to learning. The power of the SLG program is its focus on at-risk courses as opposed to at-risk students. The student leaders are people who have already successfully completed the course and completed a leader training program.
The SLG leader attends classes along with the other students, and then once or twice a week facilitates a study session for any student who wishes to attend. The SLG leader focuses on helping students develop transferable learning skills and strategies, and applies these to the content of the course. The theoretical framework for supported learning groups is based on a social knowledge construction approach to learning which incorporates Lev Vygotsky’s notion of the “zone of proximal development”: that is, “What learners do in collaboration today, they will be able to do independently tomorrow” (Supplemental Instruction Supervisor Manual. Kansas City: UMKC, c.2006. P. 12.)
This social knowledge construction aspect of the SLG program distinguishes it from more traditional approaches to supplemental instruction, such as tutoring programs. Students learn to learn in a collaborative, structured, social environment where proven learning strategies are applied to course content. SLG leaders facilitate learning by teaching students to recognize and implement learning strategies appropriate for difficult course concepts. Students participate in small group exercises that promote social interaction and collaborative learning.
In these small group settings, students assist each other as they develop their own learning strategies. In some cases, students who have been helped by SLG go on to help others by becoming SLG leaders themselves. SLG leaders never re-lecture in their sessions.
History of the Program at UFV
The Supported Learning Groups (SLG) pilot project, underway since September 2008, was administered by four volunteer coordinators: Wendy Watson, Director of Assessment Services; Kim Isaac, University Librarian; Donna Alary, Director of Enrollment Management; and Najmi Alibhai, UFV Counselor. SLG acquired permanent status at UFV in 2010 and has since then found a home in C1007. This program is now under the Teaching & Learning Department (AVP Maureen Wideman)and administered by Navneet Sidhu (Coordinator).
During the pilot year, SLGs were offered for students in 7 courses (17 sections) in the Faculties of Arts and Science: Computer Information Systems 192; Computing Science 150; Geography 101 and 130; Mathematics 104 and 105; and Psychology 101. The total final graded enrolment for these courses was 518 with 191 students participating in SLG (37%). The total number of session hours offered was 295. The student contact hours totaled 1203.
The combined mean course grade for the SLG participants was 2.54 as compared to 2.20 for the non-participants. The rate of D, F, and W’s in the SLG participant group (10%) was lower than for the non-participant group (21%).
Due to the small sample size, data must be interpreted with caution. However, these results are encouraging as those who attended SLGs received higher course grades than those who did not. For the individual courses, the data analyzed by clustered attendance (0, 1-3, 4 or more hours) suggest that students who regularly attend SLGs receive higher grades than those who attend only one session.
These data suggest that the SLG supported learning model makes a difference in students’ learning. When students learn and achieve higher course grades for their learning, particularly in first year courses, we know that they tend to stay in higher education at a higher rate, thus affecting retention on campus.
The student leaders in year one also indicate that this experience was valuable to their own learning and development; several of the leaders have returned to serve in the SLG program for a second or third year.