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Benefits|Supplemental Instruction

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"Tell me, and I forget.  Show me, and I remember.  Involve me, and I understand"


Jessica Willford

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Coe 219
University of Wyoming
Dept 3334
1000 E. University Ave
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: 307.766.4430

Student ImageBrief History

The supplemental instruction model was first developed at the University of Missouri, Kansas City in 1973 with the goal of identifying and supporting courses with relatively high D or F final course grades. Because of its documented success, the supplemental instruction model has become popular in many universities and in a wide range of courses, for reasons related and unrelated to the fail-rate of the course. The goal of supplemental instruction is to help students master course content while developing effective learning, critical thinking, and study strategies.

Effectiveness of Supplemental Instruction:

Supplemental Instruction has extended to over 800 colleges and universities around the world. As of January 2000, 700 institutions in the U.S. provided training to their faculty and staff for implementing supplemental instruction. Studies show that students who attend supplemental instruction sessions earn statistically significantly higher final course grades than those students who do not attend-even among students who have lower incoming SAT or ACT scores (Congos and Schoeps, 1993, Congos, Langsam, and Schoeps, 1997). 

Supplemental Instruction Features

Supplemental instruction sessions occur outside of class and are facilitated by an undergraduate or graduate student leader who attends the course regularly and engages in the readings and discussions. The student leader would have already taken and successfully completed the course (sometimes very recently). Ideally, the student leader had the same teacher as the students he/she is leading. Because the teacher's presence may inhibit students from talking frankly about their questions and weaknesses and change the class dynamic, instructors do not attend the out of class sessions. However, the instructor will work with the student leader to design the supplemental instruction sessions and advertise them on the syllabus and in class.

Many instructors find that having supplemental instruction decreases their workload and makes the course more effective. Students can use the out of class sessions for questions on content and study skills, and the supplemental instruction leader provides useful feedback to the instructor about student confusions, ideas for course enrichment, and course organization. Supplemental instruction leaders cannot perform the same duties as TAs-they do not lead class in the instructor's absence or comment on or grade students' coursework.
Supplemental instruction sessions are designed to promote greater student interaction and peer support. It is not solely intended for underprepared students, although underprepared students benefit greatly from the sessions.  


Arendale, D. R. (1994) Understanding the Supplemental Instruction Model. New Directions for Teaching and Learning.
Congos, D., and Stout, B. (2001). 20 FAQ's from Faculty about Supplemental Instruction Programs. Research and Teaching in Developmental Education, 41 (18).

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