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Elements of SI|Supplemental Instruction

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


Jessica Willford

Contact Us

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

LeaRN's Supplemental Instruction Program

The Supplemental Instruction model has proven to be successful with institutions of varying size, location, and organizational structure. The SI model can be adapted to reflect the individual needs and differences of each campus but there are certain elements of the model which must be present to ensure the integrity of the program. They are as follows:

SI Sessions Are Peer-Facilitated  Student Image

The ideal SI leader is a student who has recently taken the class from the same instructor and received a high final subject grade. All SI leaders should be approved by the class professor for content competency. The SI leader neither relectures nor introduces new material; instead the SI leader's responsibility is to organize and add structure to the SI sessions. The responsibility for processing class material and answering questions generated by the students remains with the students. The primary function of the SI leader is to facilitate discussion among SI participants and model successful learning strategies at key moments in the SI sessions. In the absence of a qualified student to act as an SI leader, a staff member, or community resident may also serve as an SI leader

The SI Leader Serves as a Model Student

The SI leader functions as "model student" of the discipline rather than authority figure. SI leaders help students formulate and answer their own questions. This process helps students develop a more sophisticated approach to learning while maintaining the focus on content mastery.

SI Sessions Integrate Content and Learning Skills

The SI sessions integrate the review of lecture notes, textbook readings, outside supplemental readings along with appropriate modeling of learning strategies. "How to learn" is embedded into SI sessions along with "what to learn." Through practice and mastery of effective learning strategies, students can adopt and transfer these strategies to other subjects and content areas. Collaborative learning strategies are used in SI sessions as a means of creating a more active learning environment for student participants.

The SI Leader Attends the Targeted Class Lecture

When the SI leader attends all lecture sessions, the SI leader is knowledgeable about what is occurring in the class sessions and has an opportunity to model "good student" behavior in the subject. The SI leader's presence in the classroom also serves to market the SI program to students. If the potential SI leader cannot attend class, it is generally best to identify the academic assistance sessions as something other than SI, such as group tutoring.

SI Leader Receives Training

The SI leader receives training prior to the beginning of the term. Inservice training continues throughout the academic term. These training sessions include specific teaching/learning theory and strategies. 

Student ImageThe SI Program Is Supervised

The Supplemental Instruction Coordinator and LeaRN Director supervise the SI leader and the SI program. Among other duties, the SI peer leader periodically attends SI sessions throughout the academic term and provides helpful feedback for the improvement of the program.

Regularly Scheduled Sessions

SI is in place from the beginning of the academic term. Generally the sessions offered will vary depending on student demand or specific issues related to the subject. Students attend SI sessions on a voluntary basis.

Program Evaluation

There are two reasons to evaluate the SI program each academic term: (1) to continuously improve the overall quality of the program by gathering information about its strengths and weaknesses and, (2) to inform college administrators about the overall impact of the program. The SI program should be evaluated appropriately by assessing institutional outcome measures (e.g., final subject grades, subject withdrawal rates, institutional dropout rates, institutional graduation rates). Assessment is an increasingly important issue in academic life and often has a direct link to funding.

SI Targets Subjects Rather Than Students

SI does not diagnose students who may have academic difficulty; instead, the program targets first- and second-year courses  that are either traditionally difficult for students or courses that may be enriched by SI.  SI avoids a remedial stigma by focusing on classes rather than individual students.

While all students may not take advantage of the voluntary service, it attracts an equal proportion of students from differing ability and cultural groups. SI does not segregate students based on prior academic performance or predictions of academic success. SI sessions work best with heterogeneous groupings of students. Participating students receive higher measures of academic achievement in comparison to their nonparticipating counterparts.

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