Supplemental Instruction (SI), The Lasso Center, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
Taz Ellett, an OSU senior international business major from Wichita Falls, Texas, has been active since fall 2015 in OSU’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program. The program supports the academic success and persistence of students enrolled in historically-challenging courses at OSU. Ellett joined the program as an SI Leader for general chemistry courses.
“In his time as a leader, Taz consistently received positive feedback from students who attended his sessions,” said Scott Alexander, coordinator for Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction. “They praised him for helping them better understand difficult material, noted that he made them feel comfortable and confident, and even appreciated that he pushed them to produce their own learning outcomes in SI sessions instead of just feeding them information.”
Ellett’s hard work as an SI Leader resulted in students earning higher grades in general chemistry and persisting in completing the course. As a by-product of Ellett’s work, many of his former SI session participants applied to become SI Leaders themselves and were hired to join the staff, Alexander said. “Unbeknownst to Taz, he was recruiting the next generation of SI Leaders for us by modeling excellence in every aspect of his job,” he said.
In 2016, Ellett was promoted to Assistant SI Mentor, a student leadership position. In this role, he mentors SI Leaders, supporting their development and growth as they, in turn, support the academic success of students at OSU. He delivers staff trainings, observes SI Leaders as they conduct sessions, provides constructive feedback to Leaders in one-on-one meetings, and supports their professional development through SI Leader Collaborative Groups, as well as an annual Student Employment Learning Outcome initiative focused on introducing and producing professional competencies in student staff.
“I have been continually impressed by Taz's capacity to exercise leadership through equipping our staff, motivating them to excel in all areas of their roles as SI Leaders, and supporting our program's improvement and advancement overall,” Alexander said. “When I recently praised Taz to another campus administrator, she commented, ‘Taz is a natural mentor. It's just in him, in everything that he does.’ These are true words, in my experience with Taz. Outside of his work with us, Taz mentors young men in the Stillwater community through the local chapter of K-Life. Mentorship is a lifestyle for this young man.”
About the Program: OSU’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program supports the academic success and persistence of students enrolled in historically-challenging courses. SI leaders serve as a mentoring presence for students in the classrooms of these targeted courses. Outside the classroom, SI leaders develop and facilitate three weekly group review sessions for students, collaborating with students to review course content and guiding students through interactive study strategies that engage students' varied learning styles. The goal is for students to use the learning techniques introduced in SI sessions to enhance their mastery of course material and to be able to carry these strategies forward in their student career to increase their performance in future classes. SI Leaders also make themselves available for one-on-one and small group meetings during weekly office hours.