Broadening Access to the Sciences > Case Studies > Supplemental Instruction

Supplemental Instruction

Supplemental Instruction
Contact Person: Ben Lotto

Program Mission

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program that utilizes peer assisted study sessions. SI study sessions are informal seminars in which students compare notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools and predict test items. The SI sessions are directed by "SI leaders," usually students who have previously and successfully taken the course and then sit through the course again.

What is the impetus for the program? What are the goals of the program?

To provide another resource for students taking mathematics courses that is more structured than peer tutoring, but less intimidating than talking to the professor; to provide a context in which students can learn and practice effective group study skills.

How is the program structured?

An "SI leader" - a student who as already taken the course - attends all class meetings of the course. He/she meets with the instructor of the course and the administrator in charge of SI once each week to plan the SI sessions. The SI sessions occur once each week and usually involve group study, problem solving, etc.

Who was involved in starting and/or who is involved in running the program? What were/are their roles?

Ben Lotto (chair, mathematics department) and Leslie Dunn (director, Learning & Teaching Center) received a grant from CHAS to establish a pilot SI program in the math department. Doris Haas (math specialist, Learning/Teaching/Research Center) is the SI administrator.

Key steps/missteps

  • starting (including funding) - find a terrific SI administrator, be willing to devote student resources to SI that might otherwise go to peer tutoring or research assistants. The pilot program included the economics department, in which the program failed to thrive for reasons not well understood.
  • growing and sustaining - the trickiest point is to provide funding for the student SI leaders and enough supervision (now done by an experienced SI leader student as well as the administrator)

How is the program evaluated

Data on attendance and grades of SI attendees is gathered, SI attendees are surveyed on their use and opinion of the program. Analysis of the data is incomplete/inconclusive.

References and notes