What is Supplemental Instruction*?
Supplemental Instruction (SI), is a support program which provides students with targeted group study sessions tailored to the specific needs of this class. The heart of the SI program involves the SI leader, a trained UM-Flint student who has been chosen by the faculty.
SI leaders attend all class sessions, complete all assigned readings, and facilitate weekly 50-minute sessions that provide students with a greater insight into the material presented in class. SI Leaders also help students master content-oriented material while improving study skills and test-taking strategies.
Ultimately, SI Leaders strive to empower students to explore concepts and work problems on their own. While SI session attendance is voluntary, students should seriously consider attending one SI session per week.
There are several key elements of SI that differentiate it from other forms of academic support:
- SI identifies courses instead of students
- SI provides a vehicle for developing essential academic skills in regular credit bearing courses
- Participation in the SI program is voluntary and open to all students in the course
- The SI leader attends all the lectures for the targeted course
- The SI leader is trained on specific teaching/learning theory and techniques
- The SI program is supervised by a trained professional staff member
- The program is only assigned to classes in which the faculty member invites and supports SI
- Assistance begins during the first two weeks of the semester before students encounter academic problems
- SI leaders facilitate and encourage groups to process the material rather than act as authority figures who lecture to participants
Background of the SI Program
Supplemental Instruction is a non-remedial, institution-wide approach to retention. Developed by Deanna C. Martin, Ph.D. at the University of Missouri at Kansas City in 1973, Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic assistance program that increases student performance and retention by providing regularly scheduled, out-of class, peer facilitated sessions.
The SI leaders are the key people of the program. They are presented as model "students of the subject." As such, they present an appropriate model of thinking, organization and mastery of the discipline. All SI leaders take part in an intensive two-day training session before the beginning of the term. The training covers such topics as how students learn as well as instructional strategies aimed at strengthening student academic performance. SI leaders attend all class sessions, take notes, read all assigned material, and conduct at least one 50-minute SI session each week.
The SI session integrates how-to-learn with what-to-learn. Students who attend the SI session discover appropriate application of study strategies as they review content material, e.g., note taking, graphic organization, questioning techniques, vocabulary acquisition, and test preparation. Students have the opportunity to become actively involved in the course material as the SI leaders use the text, supplementary readings, and lecture notes as vehicles for learning skill instruction. SI sessions are attended on a voluntary basis and no effort is made to segregate students based on 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 SI supervisor, an on-site professional staff person, implements and supervises the SI program and 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 session, evaluating the program and reporting results to campus administrators.