Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program that targets historically difficult courses. SI is a non-remedial approach to learning enrichment that increases student performance and retention. SI offers regularly scheduled, out-of-class review sessions to all students enrolled in a targeted course. SI study sessions are informal seminars in which students review notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, and prepare for examinations. Students learn how to integrate course content with reasoning and study skills. The SI sessions are facilitated by “SI leaders,” students who have previously and successfully completed the targeted course. SI leaders attend all class lectures, take notes, and act as model students for their classmates. SI was developed by Deanna C. Martin, Ph.D. at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in 1973.
- SI targets historically difficult courses rather than "at-risk" students.
- SI leaders do not lecture, rather they direct collaborative learning exercises that encourage the students to take responsibility for processing the course material.
- Participation in the SI program is voluntary and open to all students in the course.
- Assistance begins during the first week of the term before students encounter academic difficulties.
- The SI leader attends all lectures for the targeted course.
- The SI leader is trained in specific teaching/learning theory and techniques.
- The SI program is supervised by a trained professional staff member.
- The program is offered only in classes in which there is support from the faculty member.
SI tutors serve as the peer facilitators for SI sessions. They present an appropriate model of critical thinking, organization, and mastery of the discipline. All SI tutors attend an intensive training session before the beginning of the academic term. This training addresses issues about how students learn and presents instructional strategies aimed at strengthening student academic performance. SI tutors attend class sessions, take notes, read all assigned material, and conduct regularly scheduled review sessions each week.
The SI supervisor, an on-site professional, implements the SI program and supervises the SI leaders. This person is responsible for identifying the targeted courses, gaining faculty support, selecting and training SI leaders, monitoring the quality of the SI sessions, evaluating the program, and reporting results to campus administrators.
SI students earn higher course grades and withdraw less often than non-SI participants. Also, data demonstrate higher reenrollment and graduation rates. Faculty and staff from over 900 institutions in the U.S. and twelve other countries have been trained to implement SI.
SI sessions integrate how-to-learn with what-to-learn. Students who attend the SI sessions develop study strategies for note taking, graphic organization, questioning techniques, vocabulary acquisition, and test preparation as they review course material. Students have the opportunity to become actively involved with their classmates as they process the text, supplementary readings, and lecture notes. SI uses the course content as a vehicle for developing learning skills. SI sessions normally occur in or near the course classroom instead of in a learning center. Students attend SI sessions on a voluntary basis and no effort is made to segregate students based upon academic ability. Since SI is introduced on the first day of classes and is open to all students in the class, SI is not viewed as remedial.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City. The Center for Academic Development. April 2003. page 6