University Learning Center

Tutoring session

Supplemental Instruction

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.

The SI program works with Student Affairs Assessment, Research, & Planning to identify large enrollment sections with high DFW rates and a demonstrated impact on persistence and/or graduation rates. 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 post-secondary programs. Since its initial development at UMKC, SI has expanded into an international framework with institutions all over the United States and in 30 other countries.

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



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 class meetings; maintain a professional attitude about matters such as class standards, grades, and student complaints; and discourage students from attending SI as a substitute for class. SI sessions are designed to provide students opportunities to actively utilize their class resources and participate in collaborative learning activities instead of a traditional "review session" type of experience.

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?

Despite the title, the SI Leader does not directly teach or lecture during sessions.  Instead, the leader facilities students in group collaboration to improve their understanding of the course topics.  The SI Leader also does not answer student questions over email. 

​Instead, students are encouraged to utilize professor and SI Leader office hours to get assistance on specific ​questions. The SI Leader should 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.