U of G Named Canadian Hub for Supplemental Instruction

October 09, 2008 - News Release

The University of Guelph is set to join elite group of universities around the globe by becoming an official national centre for supplemental instruction.

U of G today signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where the supplemental instruction model was created more than 30 years ago.

It paves the way for U of G to become one of only a handful of national supplemental instruction centres in the world. Currently, there are national centres in Australia, England, South Africa, Sweden and the United States.

It also means Guelph will be the official go-to place for Canadian post-secondary institutions wanting to bring supplemental instruction to their students.

“It’s really exciting to be able to serve as a conduit of information about what’s going on in Canada and around the world," said Mary Wilson, an educational development associate in Guelph's Teaching Support Services.

Ten years ago, U of G became the first university in Canada to introduce supplemental instruction by way of supported learning groups into its teaching and learning strategy. Wilson founded Guelph's program and will serve as the Canadian representative for the national supplemental instruction initiative.

Supported Learning Groups are a series of weekly review sessions attached to what have historically been difficult courses. Led by senior students, the program helps students learn how to navigate challenging course material and perform better in the course. In addition, students connect with other students in their class to compare notes, discuss important concepts and develop strategies for enhanced learning.

Wilson said that educators have been coming to Guelph for advice about how to create their own supported learning groups for years. "This is formal recognition of our role as point of connection, and we’re honoured to be at the hub of a growing network."

Over the past decade, Guelph’s Supported Learning Groups program has grown significantly. It started out with three peer helpers in one section of one chemistry course to an initiative that now has two full-time staff members and 35 to 40 peer helpers who provide support to students enrolled in 16 first-, second- and third-year courses. Last year, more than 3,000 students participated.

It has also won international and national awards, including being named Program of the Year in 2000 by the Canadian Student Affairs and Services Association.

Benefits to students who use the program include increased retention of information, better time-management skills, immediate group feedback and a safe, supportive and engaging learning environment, Wilson said.

“U of G was chosen to become Canada’s national centre because of the success of our program and the commitment of our campus community to ensuring that this resource exists for our students."

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1