Supplemental Instruction (SI):
What is the difference between academic tutors and supplemental instruction (SI) leaders?
Many students are confused by the difference between tutors and SI leaders, especially since they seem to do the same thing, which is helpful to students. But they are different in key ways. Tutors are often generalists and are available to tutor, both individually and in small groups, a variety of freshman and sophomore courses. As generalists, tutors have taken classes in the discipline they are tutoring in. However, they may not have taken the exact class you are in, nor your instructor.
Tutors do have strong backgrounds in the area they are tutoring and have various approaches to the material. SI leaders, on the other hand, work much more closely with the class they are leading. They attend class with the students and often get direct preparation from the instructor. Furthermore, SI leaders did take a class with your instructor and did quite well. That is why they were recommended by your instructor to lead SI sessions for your class. SI leaders will offer 2-3 group study sessions every week.
They normally do not work individually with students but are more like teachers. They even do lesson plans. Tutors and SI leaders both attend training to become better student helpers.
What is Supplemental Instruction (SI)?
- SI is a non-remedial approach to learning that supports historically challenging courses.
- SI provides scheduled sessions for students enrolled in the assigned course. SI sessions are informal seminars in which students review notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, and prepare for examinations.
What is an SI session?
- Sessions are typically held twice a week for 1.5 hours.
- Students who attend SI sessions will discover appropriate applications of several study strategies such as: note taking, graphic organization, questioning techniques, vocabulary acquisition, test preparation, and other helpful ways of reviewing material.
- SI Sessions provide students with the opportunity to participate in a structured study environment so that material is reinforced between class meetings.
Who are SI Leaders?
- SI Leaders are undergraduate experts in course content who passed the selected course with an A- or A.
- They are role models for their peers who possess strong time management and organization skills.
- They attend each class meeting and prepare structured SI sessions to review difficult material with the class.
Who attends SI sessions?
- Participation in the sessions is voluntary, free, and open to all students enrolled in the course!
- These sessions are meant for ALL students to review challenging course content with their peers.
What is the SI Leader’s role?
- SI Leaders must attend all classes for their assigned course as a student would.
- During class, the SI leader is responsible for taking notes in preparation for the subsequent SI session.
- SI Leaders are undergraduate course content specialists who facilitate organized study sessions to help you and your peers succeed.
- SI leaders are not teacher’s assistants, co-instructors, or tutors.
What is the faculty member’s role?
- Faculty recommend qualified students to serve as SI Leaders.
- They maintain consistent communication with SI Leaders and provide feedback on the program.
“The Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program has been extremely beneficial for my General Biology courses. SI Leaders are a great resource for our students since they have successfully completed the course themselves and have a strong foundation in the course. SI Leaders offer great study practices and administer quizzes to help the students fully understand the course material. I work closely with my SI Leaders. They give me feedback regarding topics that students are not quite grasping and I can provide material to the SI leaders to review in their weekly sessions. The SI program has been extremely successful for the Department of Life Sciences.”
Dr. Lisa Runco, Faculty, Biology