University Learning Center

supplemental instruction

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.

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.

How Can I Get SI For My Class?

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.