Hi Michael,


I agree with Emily. Math SI has low turnout for us as well, but our math walk-in table is extremely popular. Actually, I should say “was”. I was a math SI leader at Stephen F. Austin State University. Then I became a math instructor at the same university and had an SI leader for my course. Attendance was good, but not great. We were seeing that a few people came consistently, but then there wasn’t enough space in the room right before an exam (no matter how much I encouraged the students to NOT wait until the exam).


Then, I left the university for a couple of years. During that time, the Math Program Director (which is my job now) made some changes. They got rid of SI completely and offered “learning teams”. When I was first told about this, my gut reaction was “No! Let’s change that back to SI”. However, I gave it some thought. I knew our Math department had been through many changes over the last couple of years, so I decided to keep one thing consistent and see for myself how it went. I was glad I did!


One of the main differences between “learning teams” and SI is that students have to sign up for learning teams. Attendance is mandatory. When they sign up, they are sent a reminder email about their appointment once a week. They are also weekly reminded of the attendance policy. The learning teams end up being similar to one-on-one tutoring, but with a max of 8 students instead of 1. I can describe further if needed.


Last semester, I tried to partially bring SI back. The thought was for each Math course, we would offer about 3 or 4 learning teams and 1 SI during the week. The students had to sign up for the learning teams, but not SI. We quickly learned that students actually prefer learning teams. As a former SI leader myself, that was a little shocking to me. Having a mix of learning teams and SI works best for courses like Math Elementary Ed, Statistics, and Calculus. Going forward, those will be the only courses that I offer SI for.


Of course, I’m only speaking for Math. This idea of mixing learning teams and SI was given to me by our Science program director. We both agree that some courses need both learning teams and SI, but some courses only need learning teams. Those are generally the courses that are problem based and homework heavy. SI works better for courses that are more concept based.


I hope that helps! If you think this idea is crazy, then your mindset is exactly as mine was when I first heard about it. The professors resisted at first, but actually prefer learning teams now as well. I agree that having them as our cheerleaders and advertisers is the best way to get any clients.



Stephanie Weatherford

Program Director – Math and Computer Science

Academic Assistance and Resource Center (AARC)

Stephen F. Austin State University | Nacogdoches, TX

(936) 468 – 1403

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The views and opinions expressed in this message are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Stephen F. Austin State University, its Board of Regents, or the State of Texas.




From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Janssen, Emily E
Sent: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 12:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [External Sender] Increasing SI attendance


Hi Michael,


Our SI program at my previous institution tended to see low turnout for math SI, unless we adapted SI to deal with the homework problems. For many math classes, students felt that they should not have to do any extra practice beyond the homework problems, especially if the instructor assigned a lot of homework. Therefore, SI was poor match for students’ expectations about math classes. It might be worth it to try to change the culture around additional practice in math classes, but that is likely to be a long, slow, messy process. For that reason, I think SI in math is a tough sell, and those SI sections are likely to show lower attendance than your other SI sections. However, I would be more than happy to be proven wrong if other institutions have had better results incorporating SI in math classes!


Our most successful SI sections – attendance-wise anyway – were those whose faculty were extremely enthusiastic. Some of those faculty offered extra credit, but many did not. I think the higher attendance was just as much due to the cheerleading the instructors did on a regular basis. We’re talking at least once a week. Some of it, I think, was cheerleading about the program, and some was praising the SI leader to the students. Some was also “the more practice you get with this, the better you’ll do on exams” – basically instructors who preached and modeled growth mindset.


I think sometimes the best thing we can do to increase attendance at SI is make sure faculty understand the program well and know how much of an impact their words have on student attendance.


Hope this helps,



From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Michael Kassel
Sent: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 12:03 PM
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Subject: [External Sender] Increasing SI attendance


CAUTION: This email originated from outside of Mid-State Technical College. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.

What are the most effective strategies you've used to increase SI attendance? We find low attendance, especially for Math SI, and have attempted a few things:


  1. Posters in class announcing days and times of SI sessions
  2. Encouraging SI leaders to use Blackboard email to all students to discuss upcoming topics (not just a session reminder) for this week's session
  3. Visits to classes by Tutorial/SI Coordinator
  4. Faculty extra credit for session attendance (if they chose to do so, as well as optional extra credit for those who cannot attend) 
  5. SI Promo video (two minutes) played during the SI intro. Here is a link to the video I created: 

For all our efforts, we still sometimes suffer from low attendance - what are you doing on your campus?


Just a note on the video - this was not scripted - I spent about a half hour interviewing each of the actual SI leaders (and one student) and just asked some basic questions and then edited this together selecting the best parts of what they had said)



Michael B. Kassel, Ph. D.

Tutorial Coordinator

Adjunct Lecturer in History and American Culture

285 University Pavilion

(810) 766-6773

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Emily Janssen
Academic Coach
Mid-State Technical College / Wisconsin Rapids Campus
500 32nd Street North
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494
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