By Brian L Brink
On Thursday, April 12, the last Thiel Forum of the term was held featuring students talking about supplemental instruction and Sociology Professor Alan Hunchuck talking about how Greenville has changed since the 1990s.
English Professor and Academic Coach, Nancy Katz, along with some of her student workers presented “Supplemental Instruction: A Model of Successful Academic Support.” Hunchuck presented his work, “The Transformation of an American Small Town: Main Street, Greenville, PA.”
Katz began by introducing most of the SI students under her and talking about what they do. The student workers focus on “collaborative learning” where they sit in the class with the students they’re helping and hold sessions during the semester for those who want help. This, according to Katz, helps improve student learning and performance.
Katz said that SI began in 1973 at University of Missouri–Kansas City by Dr. Deanna Martin. She did this because she didn’t want to lose students, lower academic standards, or spend a lot of money, Katz said. Since it’s conception SI has spread to 2,500 institutions in 50 countries and has reached over 250,000 students worldwide.
One of the student worker explained that SI wants to break the dependency cycle, of professor to student instructing, and making instruction more student centered. During and a session the student worker is nothing more than the “guide on the side,” allowing the students of the class understand the material better.
The research backs this up, according to other student presenters, showing that the classes that have SI end up with less Ds, Fs, and withdrawals. The research also showed that last semester 77 percent of students that had SI in one of their classes used it and 99 percent of them said that the sessions made them overall better students.
Katz said that SI benefits the leaders, the faculty, and the institute all in different ways. The student workers learn leadership skills and have better relationships with the students. The faculty have students that are better prepared for the class. And the institute retains more students and has improved student learning.
Hunchuck began his presentation by providing some history of Greenville. He explained how there were six founding families and that they were mostly farmers that settled on this spot in 1797. In the earliest census that he had the population was 1,848 people in 1870. The same data showed that the population swelled to 8,101 by 1920 and has fallen to 5,819 as of the 2015 census.
Hunchuck also spoke about the founding of Thiel College and how it began in 1866 in the town of Phillipsburg, which is now Monaca, PA. However, according to him, Thiel was moved to Greenville in 1870, which is where it’s been ever since.
Hunchuck then presented pictures of Greenville’s main street, many of which he took himself within the past three years.
“If I started this when I moved he in ’91 then I would have a treasure trove,” he said
One picture that he showed that wasn’t taken by him was a picture of downtown before the Great Fire of 1873 in which the buildings were all made of wood. He explained that the fire took most of downtown with it. However, he said that the residents decided to rebuild with brick building, some of which still stand to this day.
This was the last Thiel Forum of the current term but will be back going once a month started in the fall semester.