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Could Supplemental Instruction Be Right for Your Course?

Overview of Supplemental Instruction

photo of SI session

Matt, an SI leader, helping his peers during a study session.

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an internationally known academic assistance program that aims to help students successfully complete historically difficult courses. Supplemental Instruction was initially established in 1973 at the University of Missouri – Kansas City to address high attrition rates in the health science program and was quickly extended to the whole institution. In 1981, the U.S. Department of Education recognized SI as an Exemplary Education Program. According to the International Center for Supplemental Instruction’s website, there are currently over 200 SI programs in colleges and universities worldwide. All SI programs have the following features:

  1. An emphasis that is placed on historically difficult courses and not specific students. If SI is supporting a course, the sessions are open to all students in that class. This reduces the stigma students sometimes feel when seeking academic assistance.
  2. SI leaders who are trained facilitators. They provide structure to SI sessions and help to empower their peers as they learn the course material.
  3. SI sessions that focus on collaborative learning activities. These activities help students process course content and material.

Supplemental Instruction at DePaul

photo of si leader conducting a session

SI Leader and mentor, Joanna, conducting a training session.

Since 2003 the Office for Teaching, Learning and Assessment has provided SI for courses that have proven to be historically difficult for students. These are typically 100-200 level courses that are taught in a lecture format. SI is meant to support faculty teaching and afford students the opportunity to create connections from the material that they are learning in class to what they already know. This quarter we are proud to offer Supplemental Instruction in 15 sections of Math, Accounting, Economics and Biology courses. You can see a complete list of courses on the DePaul SI website.

When a course is supported by SI, the professor is assigned an SI Leader. SI leaders are students who have demonstrated a history of academic success in the course that they are supporting. SI leaders attend all of the lectures for their corresponding courses  and then conduct three one-hour study sessions per week. During these sessions, students can expect to review notes, predict test questions, discuss readings and develop organizational strategies all while participating in collaborative learning activities. You can learn more about SI sessions by watching this video.  SI leaders are trained by staff in our office through 2-3 developmental workshops per week and weekly mentoring meetings.

photo of SI Leaders at training

SI Leaders, Katherine and Karina, collaborating during a training session.

Interested In Having Supplemental Instruction Support Your Course?

If you are interested in utilizing Supplemental Instruction in your course and think that it would benefit your students, please contact me through email or via phone at 312-362-7534.


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