Supplemental Instruction

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support model developed by Dr. Deanna Martin at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in 1973 that uses peer-assisted study sessions to improve student retention and success within targeted historically difficult courses. The SI program provides peer support by having students who succeeded in traditionally difficult academic courses (e.g., Organic Chemistry, Biology 101, Logic) help other students complete these courses. SI is a non-remedial approach that provides regular review sessions outside of class in which students work collaboratively by discussing readings, comparing notes, working together to predict test items, and sharing ideas for improving class material. Courses selected for SI tend to be "gatekeeper" courses for first and second year students--generally those classes that have a 30% or higher proportion of students who receive a "D", fail, or withdraw (the DFW rate) from the course. Out-of-class review sessions are led by "SI leaders," students who took the class already and did well. SI leaders attend all class lectures, take notes, and act as models to those currently taking the course. The SI model is used for selected courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional school levels, and has been adopted by colleges and universities in the United States and internationally.

Philosophy of the SI model
The SI model is based on a collection of learning theories. SI borrows from behavioral learning principles from Skinner, Bandura, Ausubel, and Herbart; from cognitive development principles from Bruner, Piaget, and Flower and Hayes; from social interdependence principles from Geertz, Vygotsky, Bakhtin, and Erickson; and from interpretive-critical principles from Freire, Apple, and Kozol.

Effectiveness of the SI model
In the early 1990s the U.S. Department of Education validated three specific claims about the effectiveness of SI:

Students participating in SI within the targeted high-risk courses earn higher mean final course grades than students who do not participate in SI. This finding is still true when analyses control for ethnicity and prior academic achievement.
Despite ethnicity and prior academic achievement, students participating in SI within targeted high-risk courses succeed at a higher rate (withdraw at a lower rate and receive a lower percentage of fail final course grades) than those who do not participate in SI.
Students participating in SI persist at the institution (reenroll and graduate) at higher rates than students who do not participate in SI
A more recent review of all published SI research between 2001 and 2010 found studies in support of all three of these claims, and no studies contradicting them.

Dissemination of SI model
The International Center for SI is located at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri within Academic Support and Mentoring, formerly the Center for Academic Development. The International Center for SI hosts and conducts regular trainings on the SI model and has trained individuals representing more than 1,500 institutions in 30 different countries.

There are national centers for SI at the University of Wollongong, Australia, the University of Guelph, Canada, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa, Lund University, Sweden. There is also a Regional Center for SI in northern South Africa at North-West University. SI may also be called PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) and PAL (Peer Assisted Learning). Each national center is responsible for supervision and training interested institutions in their region in the SI model.

Every two years, the International Center for SI hosts a conference where administrators, educators, SI leaders, and students gather to share new research and ideas that pertain to SI.

Video-based Supplemental Instruction (VSI) is a model that combines course content with SI study sessions University professors capture video recordings of their lectures. Trained facilitators, using the recorded lectures and the SI model, guide students through the learning process while emphasizing critical thinking and study skills. Assessment is provided by the professor keeping the facilitator in the role as a peer supporter and not an evaluator.