Intro to SI: Faculty
Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a voluntary academic support model that utilizes peer-led group study to help students succeed in traditionally difficult courses. Ideal courses for SI consistently have at least a 25% DFW rate and high enrollments. These courses often fulfill general education requirements or are "gateway" courses for several majors.
Each supported course is assigned an SI Leader. SI Leaders are students who have received an A or high B in the target course and attend all class lectures, take notes, and model good student behavior. Each week, SI Leaders hold structured study sessions on campus. SI sessions give students an opportunity to meet with classmates outside of class and work together to master difficult course material. During a typical SI session, students compare and clarify lecture notes, review textbook readings, solve practice problems, and discuss key course concepts.
SI is different from more traditional approaches to academic support (such as tutoring) because it takes a proactive approach to student success. SI Leaders attend class and hold sessions from the first week of class until the end of the semester. Additionally, by targeting high-risk courses instead of high-risk students, SI provides a non-remedial approach to student success that is available to all students regardless of background or skill level.
The Role of Faculty in SI
SI is most effective in courses where the program has faculty support.
The most important role of faculty members in the SI program is to maintain communication with the SI Leader assigned to their course and help facilitate communication between the SI Leader and the class. Some of the ways faculty members assist in this include:
- Sharing SI session times and locations in the course syllabus and on the course webpage/BbLearn
- Allowing SI Leaders to make announcements in class, especially on the first day of the semester
- Allowing SI Leaders to email students regularly about what to expect at SI (or forwarding emails from SI Leaders to the class)
- Meeting regularly with SI Leaders to discuss student participation of SI, clarify difficult course material, and allow faculty to review materials such as mock exams (this could be just a couple of minutes before or after class, during office hours, or another time entirely)
Faculty members are also asked to help the SI Coordinator measure the effectiveness of the program by sharing some student information. The SI Coordinator uses student exam scores and final course grades to compare the performance of students who attend SI to those to do not attend SI. This data helps us ensure our program offers high quality support as well as helping us obtain and maintain certification with the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at University of Missouri-Kansas City.
SI targets courses that students traditionally find difficult. That is, the course on average has at least a 25% DFW rate. SI also looks for courses with high enrollment that fulfill general education requirements or are "gateway" courses for several majors.
SI is completely maintained and coordinated through Academic Support Programs. All we ask of faculty in SI-supported classes is that they provide the following:
- A few minutes at the beginning of class for the SI Leader to make weekly announcements.
- Short, regular check-ins with the SI Leader (this could be just a few minutes before or after class).
- The addition of the SI Leader to the course BbLearn site.
- Access to exam and course grades for comparison only (use of all information in strict compliance with FERPA and UI policies).
- Access to class email list or willingness to pass on SI Leader emails to the class.
A typical SI session is an hour-long meeting in a classroom on campus and might include a review of lecture and assigned readings, group work and discussion, problem-solving and critical thinking activities, or a mock exam. The SI Leader’s primary focus is to assist students in understanding the course material while helping them to develop effective study skills that are applicable to the content. The SI Leaders will never structure SI sessions as a forum to re-lecture to students who missed class.
There are many benefits the having the SI Leader attend class:
- The SI Leader models effective classroom behavior by arriving on time, listening, and taking lecture notes.
- The SI Leader gains a deeper understanding of the course material and is better able to plan relevant and helpful SI sessions that focus on the most difficult content.
- The students in the class recognize the SI Leader and are more likely to attend SI Sessions.
The SI Leader is NOT available for grading exams or papers, or to proctor exams. As a rule, we request that you not ask SI Leaders to run copies and errands or to distribute exams, graded papers, and other class literature. It’s important for the SI Leader to maintain his/her peer status among the students in the class. SI Leaders are paid to attend class, keep up with the material, and facilitate group study sessions.
Absolutely! We use a variety of publicity methods to attract qualified students for SI Leader positions, and faculty support in this area is highly beneficial. Faculty recommendations are an important and valuable source of applicants.
Please call the SI Coordinator at 208-885-1681 to discuss your concerns.
We do not support providing extra credit to students for attending an SI session for the following reasons:
- Some students may not be able to attend SI because of schedule conflicts. As a result these students would have no way to participate in the extra credit.
- Asking the SI Leaders to police the sign-in sheet gives conflicting messages. For example, if a person attends the SI session for five minutes—signs in and then leaves—should the SI Leader report or ignore it? Having to monitor attendance in such a way takes the SI Leader’s attention away from the purpose of SI.
- We use student grades to evaluate the effectiveness of our program. Giving students additional points for attending SI would artificially enhance their grades and compromise the integrity of our data.
- We do not generally share the names of the students who attend SI with faculty members. This helps some students feel more comfortable attending SI sessions.
Questions not answered here? Call the SI Coordinator at 208-885-1681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.