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Supplemental Instruction FAQ


What is Supplemental Instruction?

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic assistance program that utilizes peer-assisted, collaborated learning sessions to enhance student understanding of course concepts and material. SI sessions are regularly scheduled, informal review sessions in which students compare notes, discuss readings, develop organizational skills, and take mock exams. Students learn how to integrate course content and study skills while working in a small group environment.

SI is a popular source of academic support because the sessions provide a relaxed atmosphere in which to learn. Students can come and go anytime during the session, and the small group setting provides a more comfortable environment for taking risks when asking questions and working toward finding answers. 

Who is an SI Coach?

A Supplemental Instruction Coaches (SI Coach) serve as near-peers to the students in class. These are students who have successfully completed the course, with a B or better, prior to becoming and SI Coach. SI Coaches serve as a model of good student behavior by attending all classes, taking notes, and demonstrating organizational and study skills.

SI Coaches conduct 2 out-of class sessions per week which provide students with additional support when processing course content delivered in class. SI Coaches attend a minimum of twelve required trainings each school year. SI training covers topics such as how students learn, collaborative learning techniques, instructional strategies aimed at strengthening student academic performance, group facilitation techniques, time management, data collection/analysis, and team building.

What is in it for the student?

The SI model has proven that students who attend SI sessions regularly often earn a higher course grade than students who do not attend SI sessions. By attending SI sessions, students develop a better understanding of course content.  Overall, students build their self-efficacy and metacognitive skills; thus, they strengthen their ability to succeed in all of their courses.

When do SI sessions start?

SI sessions typically begin during the second week of class,  and are held consistently throughout the semester. Each SI coach holds 2 to 3 sessions per week. It is recommended that students attend as many sessions as possible. SI sessions are informal.  To ensure that each session is productive and effective, students are expected to bring their notes, textbook(s), class handouts/worksheets, and any questions they may have. 

What are the differences between SI and other forms of tutoring or academic support?

Tutoring sessions

SI Sessions

Tutor leads discussions/examples

Leader begins discussions or examples but hands over duties to students

Tutor writes on board and demonstrates examples

Students write on board and leader sits backs and checks for understanding

Tutor tends to do most of the work and students watch

Students do much of the work and Leader watches

Usually one group or one-on-one where tutor helps students

Usually many small groups (pairs) that collaborate and help each other

Students engage with tutor

Students engage with each other



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