Supplemental Instruction (SI)

Developed by Deanna C. Martin, Ph.D. at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in 1973, Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program that targets historically difficult courses. SI is a non-remedial approach to learning enrichment that increases student performance and retention. SI offers regularly scheduled, out-of-class review sessions to all students enrolled in a targeted course. SI study sessions are informal seminars in which students review notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, and prepare for examinations. Students learn how to integrate course content with reasoning and study skills. The SI sessions are facilitated by “SI leaders,” students who have previously and successfully completed the targeted course. SI leaders attend all class lectures, take notes, and act as model students for their classmates.


  • SI targets historically difficult courses rather than "at-risk" students.
  • SI provides a vehicle for developing essential academic and learning skills in core curriculum courses.
  • Participation in the SI program is voluntary and open to all students in the course.
  • The SI leader attends all lectures for the targeted course.
  • The SI leader is trained in specific teaching/learning theory and techniques.
  • The SI program is supervised by a trained professional staff member.               
  • The program is offered only in classes in which there is support from the faculty member.
  • Assistance begins during the first week of the term before students encounter academic difficulties.
  • SI leaders do not lecture; rather they direct collaborative learning exercises that encourage the students to take responsibility for processing the course material


SI sessions integrate how-to-learn with what-to-learn. Students who attend the SI sessions develop study strategies for note taking, graphic organization, questioning techniques, vocabulary acquisition, and test preparation as they review course material. Students have the opportunity to become actively involved with their classmates as they process the text, supplementary readings, and lecture notes. SI uses the course content as a vehicle for developing learning skills. SI sessions normally occur in or near the course classroom instead of in a learning center. Students attend SI sessions on a voluntary basis and no effort is made to segregate students based upon academic ability. Since SI is introduced on the first day of classes and is open to all students in the class, SI is not viewed as remedial.


SI leaders serve as the peer facilitators for SI sessions. They present an appropriate model of critical thinking, organization, and mastery of the discipline. All SI leaders attend an intensive two-day training session before the beginning of the academic term. This training addresses issues about how students learn and presents instructional strategies aimed at strengthening student academic performance. SI leaders attend all class sessions, take notes, read all assigned material, and conduct regularly scheduled review sessions each week.