Supplemental Instruction Scheme boosts motivation to learn

Audrey Chung

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More than 250 freshmen attended an orientation recently for the Supplemental Instruction (SI) Scheme set up by the Faculty of Business (FB) to help students adjust to university learning styles and the concept of learning to learn.


The SI Scheme, now into its 5th year, is a student-centred activity originally set up by FB to help freshmen develop in-depth learning skills, boost motivation to learn, and establish a caring learning culture on campus.


The Scheme further demonstrates CityU’s commitment to quality education and its emphasis on providing a high level of academic and personal support for its students.


All SI courses within the FB are funded by FB and the On-Campus Service-learning Scheme (OSS); non-FB courses are funded by Student Development Services (SDS) and OSS.


It is based on similar initiatives held in overseas tertiary institutions. Over the past four years the number of participating departments and students has increased steadily: the School of Law, the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the Faulty of Business, and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences are now involved. Last year, around 1,000 students were involved in various SI courses within the university as students and leaders. This year, over 300 students have enrolled in the Faculty Of Business alone in Semester A.


During the Scheme, participants and the SI leaders, mostly Year 2 students, meet twice a week, during which time they enhance their learning skills and develop an active learning attitude, thereby enriching their campus life.


Lam Sze-yue, a Year 3 student from the Department of Management Sciences enrolled as an SI leader last y

ear. He told the new SI leaders during his briefing at the orientation that the most important aspect was encouraging both leaders and students to think more deeply about the topics under discussion.


“When students come across difficult questions and ask for help, I don’t tell them the answers straight away,” he said. “Instead, I encourage them to think more deeply by questioning and analyzing the problem from different perspectives, cutting it into bits and solving bit by bit,” he said.


SI leaders benefit from the Scheme because they have the opportunity to grow in confidence by taking an active part organizing the sessions. Lam Sze-yue said he prepared well in advance and he made use of real-life examples and interactive methods when giving explanations.


Joining the Scheme helped students realize the importance of taking responsibility, according to Lam Ka-yung, a Year 3 student from the Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management (MEEM) who worked as an SI leader last year.


“I used to be a passive student, but after I enrolled as an SI leader I took a more active role. I had to arrange the sessions, book rooms, and help the

other students get to know each other better. In short, I acted as a bridge and helped make participants feel more confident. This in turn helped create a better learning environment,” he said. 


Dr Patrick Wong, Associate Professor in MEEM, has worked as an SI supervisor since 2002. SI supervisors are responsible for choosing SI leaders. “Academic performance is not the only criterion. Responsibility, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and work manner are all important,” he said, adding that he encouraged freshmen to look upon their SI leaders as role models.


At the orientation, Mr Joseph Chan, the Director of SDS, encouraged freshmen to develop as ‘proactive, active learners’ during their uni

versity studies. “The difference between successful and unsuccessful teenagers is their attitude. A positive and optimistic attitude has an impact on all of our lives. Starting from today, you should learn how to learn and be positive about your studies and life,” he said.


Tertiary education means more than just acquiring knowledge from books, according to Mr Chan. “You have to apply what you learn in order to analyze problems. A higher level of learning means generating knowledge, personalizing it and localizing it before applying it to daily life. This is the way we ‘hunt for knowledge’,” he said.


Dr Margaret Poon, Associate Professor in the Department of Accountancy and the coordinator of the Scheme, said the mission was to encourage students to exchange knowledge among themselves and establish friendships. “I hope

students can learn to mingle with each other, help each other and learn from each other. As for SI leaders, this is a good opportunity for them to sharpen their leadership skills, no matter they are going to enter the business or management fields,” she said.


In the past four years, Dr Poon has received a great deal of administrative support from the FB. She said she was grateful to the technical support group for designing the website for the Scheme. SI supervisors can use this online resource to review class participation while students can use it to fill out forms and evaluate their study skills.


“I’d like to thank all participating teachers, administrative staff and technical support groups,” Dr Poon said. “You help make CityU students learn to learn.”







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