University Learning Center

Tutoring session

Supplemental Instruction

Spring 2021 SI Sessions are virtual and begin Sunday, January 31st. 

Click 'Sessions Schedule' on the right side menu for a list of supported courses by day and time. If your course is supported, your SI Leader will be reaching out to you via Canvas Messenger. All students should enable Canvas Messenger notifications on their devices for the latest SI updates and Zoom invites. 

To ensure you have the best Virtual SI experience possible, please do the following prior to attending an SI session:

  • Plan to join a session using a laptop or tablet with microphone and camera capabilities – online SI Sessions work best when the leader can see and hear everyone! We strongly recommend NOT attending these on your phone, unless it’s a last resort. Your participation will go smoother by utilizing many of Zoom’s features on a computer.
  • Be ‘present’ and ready to participate, free of distractions.
  • Make sure you’ll be in a place with reliable internet access.
  • If you are participating on-campus from an area where masks are required, wear your mask. Your SI leader may also be wearing a mask, depending on their location.
  • You must participate with your UNCW Zoom account. Personal accounts will not be allowed admittance. 
  • Check to make sure that your computer system is adequate by running a Zoom test call. This can also help you proactively fix any technical difficulties you may encounter.
  • Join the Zoom SI Session on time.

What is SI?

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a series of peer-facilitated group review sessions designed to help students succeed in historically difficult courses. Undergraduate or graduate students who have already successfully completed the course are recommended by departmental faculty and selected to serve as SI leaders at these review sessions.

Although SI Leaders (SILs) have already successfully completed the courses they support, they attend class and do readings, homework assignments, etc., again along with the currently enrolled students so they are prepared to facilitate group sessions out of class. By attending class they also make themselves readily available as a resource to the students and can update the class about schedule changes, etc. Typically an SIL will hold two to three SI sessions per week for each supported course.

How SI Works

In the SI session, the SIL helps the current students as they review lecture notes, discuss textbook reading assignments and review for tests. By integrating how to learn with what to learn, students develop skills for becoming more successful, independent learners in all classes. Within the group they strengthen collaborative learning skills, build community, network with other students, develop good study habits, and master content.

SI typically targets high risk courses, not at-risk students, by basing the selection of courses to be supported on historically high D/F/W rates and/or student / faculty interest in academic support. Participation in SI is voluntary for students and is wholly unconnected to course grading procedures.

A recent study at UNCW bears out the international data. UNCW students who participate in SI regularly earn between a half grade and a full grade higher than students who do not attend SI. Additionally, students who participate in SI withdraw far less frequently than students who don't, by a ratio of 19:1.

How SI Started

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a non-remedial academic assistance program developed at the University of Kansas City - Missouri that utilizes peer-facilitated study sessions as the means of student support. SI has been recognized since 1981 by the US Department of Education as an Exemplary Educational Program - a designation rarely granted to postsecondary programs. Since its initial development at UMKC, SI has expanded into 33 states, the District of Columbia, and thirteen other countries.

For more detail on the structure and purpose of SI, please visit the following page at the UMKC Supplemental Instruction site.

Can SI Be Offered In My Course?

Are you an instructor here at UNCW and interested in SI Support for your course? Please send an email to Tom Kunz, Coordinator of Supplemental Instruction ( We have a number of options available in an effort to pilot new courses. Please send any relevant course information along with the name(s) of potential students you would like for us to consider hiring as SI Leaders.

FAQs for Faculty and Lab TAs

What is Supplemental Instruction?

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is designed to organize and improve the ways in which students prepare for course material outside of class. SI is attached to a subject to provide students with a systematic and disciplined approach for processing the subject material assigned by the professor.

Through this program an SI leader is assigned to a subject. This is a student who has demonstrated proficiency in a targeted subject and undergoes SI training. The SI leader schedules and conducts from two to three group meetings a week at times convenient to members of the class. During these sessions, the SI leader uses interactive learning strategies which encourage involvement, comprehension and synthesis of subject content. In addition, the SI leader will incorporate demonstrations of effective study techniques.

What will faculty be required to do?

SI is not intended to create additional work for faculty. You can support SI by encouraging students to take advantage of SI. Faculty should avoid the suggestion that only those who do poorly will benefit. We hope faculty will meet with their assigned SI leader on occasion to check in about course material and trends.

What should faculty expect from the SI Leader?

The SI leader will attend most but not all of the class meetings if his/her schedule permits; maintain a professional attitude about matters such as class standards, grades, and student complaints; discourage students from attending SI as a substitute for class.

What should faculty expect from the SI Program?

That we train all SI leaders according to established guidelines and standards; monitor the activities and presentations of SI leaders, supervising their performance; provide supplies, training, in-service experiences, consultations for SI leaders; provide cooperating faculty with an end-of-term comparative analysis of student performance.

What shouldn’t I expect from my SI Leader?

The SI Leader does not answer student questions over email. Students are encouraged to submit questions via email that can be covered in an SI Session, but our program is not a student email service. The SI Leader should typically not participate in class discussions, proctor course exams, or be responsible for covering any material from the lab sections. Students have an assigned lab TA for the course, and the SI Leader will focus solely on material from the course lecture.