The good news/bad news of online supplemental instruction implementations

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

The data analysis of online supplemental instruction for 5 online general education courses has revealed unexpected results. We will share our data and open a discussion about the value of supplemental instruction, methods for program evaluation, and alternative interventions to improve student success at your institution.



With over 18 years experience, Kevin Shanley has a solid background in online, broadcast, and hybrid delivery methods in Higher Education distance education. He has been a Director of E-Learning at Utah State University, for over 10 years and has worked previously as a Manager of Instructional Technology at Edmonds Community College in Washington State, and as an Instructional designer at California State University, Chico. He earned his MS in Instructional Technology from USU in December 2009 and a BS in Instructional Technology from California State University, Chico in 2000 .
John Louviere is the Executive Director and Assistant Dean of Utah State University’s Academic and Instructional Services and has over 20 years of experience in K12 and higher education. He has also worked in leadership capacities for various non-profit start-ups intended to support higher education. John's professional ambitions are to improve teaching and learning experiences through effective administrative, technical, and academic ecosystems. When he is not working with his team at Utah State University he is running, skiing, or mountain climbing with them or his family.

Extended Abstract

USU began offering its first fully online course in 1997. Twenty years later, USU offers over 30 completely online degrees and programs to students with over 450 fully online courses each semester, to over 4,000 students. In addition, we also offer courses through Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC) to remote locations throughout the state of Utah. Our courses are taught by the same high caliber professors that teach traditional USU courses.

In 2012, USU implemented supplemental instruction (SI) for five targeted online courses with consistently high drop, fail, or withdraw (DFW) rates. The goal was to reduce DFW rates, and consequently improve passing rates. In partnership with our Academic Success Center, we leveraged the current SI program in use for traditional classes. The SI program assists students to succeed in selected General Education Breadth courses while increasing their learning strategies and study skills. Student performance is improved by combining “what to learn“ with “how to learn.”

The program uses trained student SI leaders facilitate two SI sessions per week, during which they actively involve students in reviewing and understanding course material and preparing for tests. SI leaders also demonstrate effective study strategies that a student can apply to any class. SI leaders use a variety of teaching and learning methods that includes small group work and practice quizzes.

Using a historical dataset from the targeted five online, face-to-face, and interactive video conferencing courses we used correlation coefficient methods to determine the effects of supplemental instruction on course DFW and passing rates. Additionally, institution-wide research was conducted using 4 years of historical participation data and prediction-based propensity score matching (PPSM), to determine the impacts of supplemental instruction on term-by-term retention and persistence to graduation.

Using the aforementioned research methods our institution’s staff and administration are able to make informed decisions on intervention activities applied at the course and student population levels. The results are categorized by courses, delivery types, and student populations.

In this presentation we will share the results of the data and the analysis of impact SI courses have had. Specifically we will answer:

  1. Is there value of offering Tutoring & SI programs for Online learners?

  2. Does SI improve online learner performance?

  3. Are SI programs doing what we think they should do?

Attendees of the session will be engaged in a discussion of how to evaluate the required financial & staff resources required to support an SI program. We will share how to measure the effectiveness of SI programs on the course level and the impacts of SI programs on retention and student persistence. We will also explore alternative interventions to reduce high DFW and improve passing rates for select courses at their institution.