Goals, Purpose, and Audience for Supplemental Instruction (SI)

The Supplemental Instruction (SI) model of student academic assistance helps students in historically difficult classes master course content while they develop and integrate learning and study strategies. Goals of SI include: Improve student grades in targeted historically difficult courses Reduce the attrition rate within those courses Increase the eventual graduation rates of students. Some educational researchers (Dimon, 1988; Keimig, 1983) have concluded that it is difficult to teach transferable study skills in isolation from content material, and SI offers an alternative. Experts in higher education have recognized that there is a need for increased emphasis on student retention, particularly for first-generation and economically-disadvantaged students. American society cannot afford the economic and social cost of college drop outs who are not able to fulfill their potential. All students in a targeted course are urged to attend SI sessions, and students with varying ability levels and ethnicities participate. There is no remedial stigma attached to SI since historically difficult courses rather than high risk students are targeted.

Method of SI Operation SI is attached to specific historically difficult courses

There are four key persons involved with SI. The first is the SI supervisor, a trained professional on the SI staff. The SI supervisor is responsible for identifying the targeted courses, gaining faculty support, selecting and training SI leaders, and monitoring and evaluating the program. Once the historically difficult courses have been identified, the SI supervisor contacts the faculty member concerning SI for their course. The second key person for SI is the faculty member who teaches one of the identified historically difficult courses. SI is only offered in courses in which the faculty member invites and supports SI. Faculty members screen SI leaders for content competency and approve selections. The third key person is the SI leader. SI leaders are students or learning center staff members who have been deemed course competent, approved by the course instructor and trained in proactive learning and study strategies. SI leaders attend course lectures, take notes, read all assigned materials, and conduct three to five out-of-class SI sessions a week. The SI leader is the "model student," a facilitator who helps students to integrate course content and learning/study strategies. The fourth key member of the SI program are the participating students. SI can be implemented in one course each semester, or in many more. The only difference would be an increase of one additional SI leader for each additional course. An increase of SI leaders would require an increase of SI supervisory personnel. Costs for implementing the program could be covered through various means (e.g., staff release time, work study funds, fee waivers).

History of Supplemental Instruction

SI was created by Deanna C. Martin, Ph.D., at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1973. After initially offering SI at the health science professional schools, it was extended throughout the institution. After a rigorous review process in 1981, the SI Program became one of the few postsecondary programs to be designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an Exemplary Educational Program. The National Diffusion Network (NDN), the national dissemination agency for the U.S. Department of Education, provided federal funds for dissemination of SI until the NDN was discontinued by the U.S. government. National and international dissemination continues. As of November 1995 faculty and staff from 614 institutions across the nation had received training to implement their own SI program. SI is active at 115 institutions in 12 countries (Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Marshall Islands, Malaysia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, and West Indies).

Claims of SI Effectiveness Validated by the U.S. Department of Education Claim

  1. Students participating in SI within the targeted historically difficult courses earn higher mean final course grades than students who do not participate in SI. This is still true when differences are analyzed, despite ethnicity and prior academic achievement.
  2. Despite ethnicity and prior academic achievement, students participating in SI within targeted historically difficult courses succeed at a higher rate (withdraw at a lower rate and receive a lower percentage of D or F final course grades) than those who do not participate in SI.
  3. Students participating in SI persist at the institution (reenrolling and graduating) at higher rates than students who do not participate in SI.