The Supplemental Instruction (SI) 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 maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the program.
The ideal SI Leader is a student who has recently taken the class and received an A as the final course grade. The SI Coordinator, Faculty member, and
Academic Department Head approve all SI Leaders. The SI Leader neither re-lectures nor introduces new material. Instead, the SI Leader's primary responsibilities are to organize and add structure to the SI study sessions. 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.
The SI Leader functions as a "model student" of the discipline rather than an authoritative figure. SI Leaders help students formulate and answer their own questions. This process helps students develop a more sophisticated wayof learning while maintaining the focus on content mastery.
The SI sessions integrate the review of lecture notes, textbook readings, and outside supplemental readings with appropriate modeling of critical thinking and 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 courses and content areas. Collaborative learning strategies are used in SI sessions as a means of creating a more active learning environment for student participants.
When the SI Leader attends all lectures, s/he is knowledgeable about what is occurring in the class lectures and has the opportunity to model “good student” behavior in the course. The SI Leader's presence in the classroom also serves to market the SI program to students.
The SI Leader receives one or more days of training prior to the beginning of the term, and in-service training continues throughout the semester. These training sessions include specific learning theories and strategies.
SI is in place from the beginning of the academic term. There is a minimum of three sessions offered each week, but the number may increase depending on the student demand or specific issues related to the course. Students attend SI sessions on a voluntary basis.
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 concerning strengths and weaknesses and (2) to inform college administrators of the overall impact of the program. The SI program is evaluated by assessing final course grades, course withdrawal rates, institutional drop-out rates, and institutional graduation rates. Assessment is an increasingly important issue in academic life and may have a direct link to institutional funding.
The SI program targets courses where a large portion of the students will experience academic difficulty. SI avoids the remedial stigma by focusing on course content rather than students. Supplemental Instruction is available to all students enrolled in the SI section and does not identify students based on prior academic performance.