University College and Lifelong Learning

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Supplemental Instruction (SI)?

Classes with statistically high rates of D, F or W grades are supported by Supplemental Instruction (SI) services. SI is a learning assistance program that is designed to increase student retention through the use of collaborative learning techniques. SI sessions integrate course content with learning strategies.

SI was created by Deanna C. Martin, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1973. Martin was assigned the task of decreasing the attrition rate of minority students in the schools of medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry and given a grant of $7,000 with which to do so. After initially offering SI at the health science professional schools, it was extended throughout the university. Research on the effectiveness of the SI program has indicated that SI participants earn higher mean final course grades, receive lower rates of D, F, and W grades, and persist (reenroll and graduate) at higher rates.

How does SI work?

SI sessions integrate how to learn with what to learn. SI leaders (students running these sessions) actively engage the students in the learning process. SI leaders attend the class meetings during the semester with regular students and conduct study sessions geared to what is being taught in that class.

These sessions:

  • are scheduled at times when most students can attend;
  • ideally begin during the second week of class and meet regularly throughout the semester; and
  • involve students by comparing class notes, solving problems, using handout, and taking practice tests and exams.  

Who conducts SI sessions?

SI leaders conduct SI sessions. These are students who have taken the course and who have participated in special training sessions of instructional strategies that encourage active learning. They are available to meet with the students to review lecture notes, clarify text material, prepare for tests, and evaluate and improve learning strategies.

What are the essential elements in SI?

  • SI targets subjects rather than students.
  • SI sessions are regularly scheduled.
  • SI sessions integrate content and learning skills.
  • SI sessions are peer-facilitated.  
  • SI leader serves as a model student.  
  • SI leader attends the targeted class lectures.  
  • SI leader receives training. 
  • SI program is supervised.
  • Faculty supports the program.
  • SI program is evaluated every semester to measure student success rates in a particular course.

Winston-Salem State University

601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

Winston-Salem, NC 27110

Phone: (336) 750-2000



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