Supplemental Instruction for Faculty
Benefits and Outcomes of SI
- In large General Education Breadth courses, where the majority of SI support is placed, instructors can refer students to SI sessions for additional out-of-class study assistance where the students have the opportunity to discuss and learn in small groups.
- SI helps students actively review course material to prepare for tests, while learning effective study skills and learning strategies necessary for success in the course. Faculty can provide students individual help during office hours, as well as refer students to SI for additional assistance.
- Students who attend SI three or more times during the semester on average consistently earn course grades approximately half a course grade higher than non-participants.
- SI leaders are trained and supervised through the Academic Resource Center. Course professors are encouraged to identify and refer students they believe would be qualified SI leaders.
- The SI Training Program has earned Level I International Tutor Program Certification through the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA).
- SI leaders benefit from the collaborative mentoring relationships with course professors.
Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic success and retention program that focuses on historically difficult courses rather than high-risk students. A course that is considered historically difficult is one that has a D, F, and withdrawal rate of 30% or greater for several academic terms. Often, these are introductory courses in biology, chemistry, economics, physics, and the social sciences such as psychology and sociology. In general, any course may be high-risk when there is a gap between the rigors of mastering course content and the learning skills that students bring to that content.
The goal of SI is to help students learn how to learn the course content, earn higher grades, become independent learners, and remain enrolled until graduation. A major reason institutions choose SI is because it is a cost-effective and educationally effective program designed to retain and graduate students while protecting academic integrity. SI provides opportunities for all students in a traditionally difficult course to participate in a peer-led, active learning experience that integrates how-to-learn with what-to-learn.
Additional claims of SI effectiveness as validated by the United States Department of Education are:
Claim 1. Students who participate in SI earn higher mean final course grade averages than students who do not participate. This remains true even when differences in ethnicity and prior academic achievement are considered.
Claim 2. Students who participate in SI succeed at a higher rate (have lower withdrawal rates and receive lower percentages of D and F final course grades) than those who do not participate.
Claim 3. Students participating in SI persist, reenroll, and graduate from their higer ed institutions at higher rates than students who do not participate.
(reprinted with permission from the National Center for Supplemental Instruction, Kansas City, Missouri)
Roles and Responsibilities of SI faculty
A faculty member who has SI for his/her course has a specific role and responsibilities, as described below:
- Meet with your SI leader before each semester and regularly throughout the semester to answer questions or address concerns.
- Provide a course textbook for your SI leader.
- Include your SI leader's name, email, and SI session schedule on your syllabus and Blackboard course site.
- Allow your SI leader 5-10 minutes during the first day of class to introduce him/herself and SI to your students.
- Regularly encourage your students to attend SI.
- Allow the ARC and your SI leader to administer an end-of-semester evaluation of SI with your students. This evaluation is administered online through Blackboard.
- Assist the Academic Resource Center by identifying and referring qualified applicants to be interviewed as SI leaders for your course.
SI Faculty Comments
“This is the first semester I have taught with SI and I have really enjoyed having an SI leader. They are an asset to my class and the students have nothing but good to say about them”
— Emily Hoffman, Clinical Instructor, Nutrition and Food Sciences
“My experience is that students in large classes learn better and perform better when they have access to SI, even if they attend SI sessions irregularly.”
— David Rich Lewis, Professor, Department of History
“I cannot think of another program that has had as significant effect on my students as SI”
— Tyler Bowles, Associate Professor, Department of Economics
“I have observed student performance in and out of the SI Program and have found that students faithfully associated with SI earn better grades, are more closely involved with the course, and more thoroughly comprehend course content. I firmly support the program and am totally convinced of its worthwhileness.”
— Ted Alsop, Associate Professor, Department of Environment and Society (retired)
“I am very impressed with the quality of SI leaders. They are very good student role models and are accommodating and helpful in class.”
— Susan K. Morgan, Lecturer, Department of Geology