Supplemental Instruction faqs

What is SI?

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.

What is an SI leader?

SI Leaders are “near peers”. SI Leaders are students themselves who have taken the class before and earned a high grade in the course. Faculty typically recommends the Leaders who facilitate the SI sessions. SI Leaders undergo a vigorous training process. SI Leaders are prepared to share with students how to effectively study for the course. SI Leaders attend the same class sessions with the students, taking notes and listening closely to the professor. They SI Leader is supervised by the program coordinator.


At each SI session, the Leader will guide the students through the most difficult course concepts. SI Leaders will help students make good use of their time and share the strategies he or she used to be successful in the course. SI Leaders will not re-lecture, give out copies of his or her notes, help students with assigned homework, or encourage last minute test cramming. The overall goal of SI sessions it to incorporate a deeper understanding of course content with study skills that can be used with other coursework.


The SI program is beneficial to everyone. Students who attend SI sessions report higher course grades and learned study skills. SI Leaders report professional development in Leadership and facilitation; they also report better, more developed relationships with faculty and a deeper understanding of the content for which they serve. Faculty benefit from having SI support in their classes. Through interactions with the Leader, they have their finger on the pulse of the students in their class, they receive higher student evaluations, and they are more connected with the needs of their students. Finally, university administrators benefit because the data show that course sections with SI support have, on average, a 13% reduction in grades of D, F, and Withdrawals. This helps to raise the retention rate of students in the course. Also, SI is a less expensive program to run than traditional tutoring.

hOW DOes a student KNOW IF SI IS OFFERED for a CLASS?

The SI Leader will make an announcement about sessions on the first day of class. Students may be asked to fill out a short survey regarding their class schedule and availability. Students are encouraged to bring their official class schedule with them on the first day. Availability of SI may also appear on the course syllabus and on the Schedule of Classes.

When do si sessions start?

SI sessions start the first or second week of class. SI Leaders will pass out a short survey and ask students to mark their available times on the first day class. At the International Center, we use Doodle polls to determine the best times for students; because of rooming issues, some schools must determine session times before the start of the semester. After reviewing the surveys, the SI Leader will announce times and locations for sessions during the next class period. Each SI Leader typically sets up three or more review sessions per week.

What does si cost?

SI sessions are free to students. Students are encouraged to come as often as they like, however, the statistics show that the more students attend, the better their grades.

why my course?

SI typically supports 100- and 200-level introductory, core curriculum, or “gatekeeper” courses. SI is part of your class for several reasons, none of which have anything to do with your ability to teach. The primary reason is the class is a historically difficult course wherein many students struggle and fail, thus producing a high DFW rate for the course. Rest assured you have not been singled out because someone out there thinks you need support. The focus of SI is the difficulty inherent within the course itself.

How much work will it be for me to support si?

A few minutes each week to allow the SI Leader to make in class announcements and meet with you as needed, and to provide access for the SI Coordinator to course grades (use of all information in strict compliance with FERPA and UI Policies). It is useful to add the SI Leader to the course BBLearn site and to facilitate email and other digital announcements as appropriate.

what do the Si leaders do?

The SI Leaders plan sessions around the current course material being covered in class. SI Leaders may discuss typical problems, create new problems, or work problems that were not assigned. They may discuss how to organize material, how to prepare for exams and how to develop problem-solving abilities and improve study habits. The goal of SI is to supplement what students do on their own time. After attending SI sessions, for example, students should be better able to work on problems alone, write a better paper, or study for an exam.

isn't si just test preparation or a study group?

Some students may attending SI only prior to the exam but national data suggests that students who attend regularly improve their class standing by one-half to one whole letter grade. SI leaders constantly promote SI as guaranteed weekly study time, encouraging students to attend on a regular basis. SI sessions are designed to be more effective than a traditional study group by having a competent peer, who has been there before, knows the course and is trained to create cooperative study sessions to help students better and more effectively navigate the material.

Can I give extra credit for si attendance?

As a rule, we do not support providing extra credit to students for several reasons. First, some students would not be able to attend the SI sessions because of schedule conflicts and as a result, these students could not receive the extra credit. Next, it puts the SI leader in the position of "policing" the attendance sheet; if a student attend the SI session for 20 minutes, does the SI leader report that or ignore it? Finally, for data analysis purposes, it is not desirable to have a student's grade inflated by merely showing up at the SI sessions. We would like to be able to say with greater confidence, that it was the result of what was experienced during SI.

I know a student who would be an excellent SI leader. May I refer them?

Absolutely! We use a variety of methods to attract qualified students but we need faculty help. Courses have the best chance of being offered SI support when an excellent potential SI Leader is identified. Faculty recommendations are our most important and valuable source of applicants.

How are si leaders trained?

SI Leaders attend a full-day training session at the beginning of the semester where we focus on the role of the SI leader, planning and conducting sessions, study skills and collaborative techniques as well as public speaking and our SI policies and procedures. That is a lot for one day! As such, they also receive in-service training throughout the year on a range of useful topics.

Where caN i LEARN MORE?

For more information, or if your question was not covered here, please contact

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