What is SI?
Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a series of weekly review sessions for students in "historically difficult courses" — courses in subjects with a high rate of D or F grades and withdrawals. SI is provided for all students who want to improve their understanding of the course material and improve their grades.
How does SI work?
SI is free and open to any student taking the course. A typical session might include direct instruction, modeling of a learning strategy (such as a concept map), and/or review of the concepts. Many of the techniques discussed in an SI session can be applied to other courses. These sessions are voluntary and open to any student taking the course.
SI is a chance for students to meet with peers from their class to compare notes, work through problems, discuss concepts, strengthen study skills, and apply new knowledge.
Who are the SI Leaders?
SI Leaders are qualified and trained students who have taken the course previously, often from the same instructor, and who have excelled. The SI leaders take part in an intensive training session before the beginning of the academic term with additional training throughout the academic year. Their training covers learning and instructional strategies aimed at strengthening student academic performance, data collection, and management details.
The SI Leaders:
- Attend all class lectures, take notes, and read assigned texts
- Function as model students
- Employ teaching strategies to encourage collaborative learning in the sessions
- Demonstrate how to learn course content
- Aid students in becoming independent learners who can excel in the course themselves
- SI leaders do not assist in the preparation or grading of exams.
What are the benefits of SI?
- Acquire short-term and long-term study skills
- Learn how to organize class materials
- Prepare more thoroughly for exams; compare notes, discuss important concepts, and develop strategies for studying the subject with classmates
- Receive higher mean course grades
- Meet classmates and therefore feel more comfortable participating
- Learn to collaborate with classmates
- Become independent learners
- Learn to self test over course exams
- Receive feedback before the end of term student evaluations
- Improve student interactions in class
- See more students succeed and continue in course sequence
- Improve student understanding and concepts
- Work closely with and mentor top students
What can I expect from SI?
- The sessions are designed for students of varying abilities to collaborate together.
- Students have the opportunity to become actively involved in the subject material because the leaders use the text, supplementary readings, and lecture notes as the vehicle for learning skill instruction.
- Data shows that students who attend SI sessions earn higher grades and withdraw less from the class than students who do not attend the sessions. SI students also have higher re-enrollment and graduation rates.
How does SI compare to other types of study sessions?
While SI may differ from other types of study sessions, it may also have some things in common. It may be helpful for you to think of these items below on a continuum:
- Class Attendance: unlike traditional programs, SI leaders attend all class lectures and read all assigned texts.
- Non-expert/Authority of Study Leader: While SI leaders demonstrate proficiency in the content area, they also model the learning processes necessary for content mastery. SI leaders function as model students rather than authority figures.
- Extensive Training: In addition to demonstrating competency, SI leaders are trained to think about how they achieved it. Training includes process and methodology.