Supplemental Instruction helps students succeed

April 25, 2018

Deborah Roundtree plays a vital role in ensuring that students succeed at UM-Dearborn. She supervises the Supplemental Instruction program on campus, an academic support model that seeks to provide students with academic assistance from peers in traditionally challenging courses.

Supplemental Instruction Leaders
Supplemental Instruction Leaders
SI leaders from the UM-Dearborn 2017 training session.

Deborah Roundtree plays a vital role in ensuring that students succeed at UM-Dearborn. She supervises the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program on campus, an academic support model that seeks to provide students with academic assistance from peers in traditionally challenging courses. Supplemental Instruction is available at almost 5,000 universities around the world!

Since it is “supplemental” to a specific course, SI instructors select a few challenging topics to focus on during their sessions. This ensures that students are working on prioritized material. The success of the program continues to draw more students in, which has increased attendance at the SI sessions. According to Roundtree, at UM-Dearborn, the DFW (drop, fail, withdraw) rate of SI supported courses for those that attended SI is 13% and for those who did not attend, it was 23%. Roundtree also reveals that attending five or more sessions is consistent with an increase in one half to a full letter grade.

At UM-Dearborn, almost 200 students have worked as SI leaders. The UM-Dearborn SI leaders are not only academically successful, but also hard-working and dedicated to helping others. Roundtree is not shy of her love and pride for every single SI leader she has ever worked with.

“I love this job,” said Roundtree with a big smile. “These students are wonderful and it’s a rewarding job.”

Her office walls are plastered with group-photos and headshots of past and current SI leaders and she remains in contact with former SI leaders. The skills and experience the instructors gain from helping other students is invaluable, and could be applied to their post-undergrad studies and work. In fact, a former SI leader has actually created a program similar to SI in her graduate program!

Roundtree notes that the SI program has evolved into a “family-like community” on campus. SI leaders and their students end up developing very strong friendships. Not only do SI leaders tutor students, but they also act as mentors for them. This is especially important considering that many SI attendees are underclassmen who need academic as well as personal advice.

In addition to her role as Supervisor, Roundtree teaches Psychology, a subject she’s very passionate about, and credits the SI program for improving her teaching pedagogy. She strives to add variety to her three-hour classes, incorporating film, discussion, and experience.

“I love teaching students and I like working with this population,” she said.  “This is a University filled with working people and the population here is real.”

-- Leah Johnson Olajide and Mohamad Jaafar

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