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Academic Learning Center

Supplemental Instruction FAQ


What is Supplemental Instruction (SI)?

Developed by Dr. Deanna Martin in 1973 at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a non-remedial academic assistance program.  SI provides regularly scheduled, out-of-class, peer-facilitated sessions designed to increase student performance and retention.  The SI program targets historically difficult academic courses and not high-risk students.  Difficult courses are those that have a high rate of D or F grades, incompletes, and withdrawals.

What is an SI leader?

SI leaders facilitate SI sessions. SI leaders are UNI students with excellent interpersonal skills who have taken the targeted course before and earned a high grade. The SI leader is hired to attend the course lecture, take notes, model good student behavior, and facilitate group study sessions for the targeted course section(s). SI leaders are prepared to share with students how to effectively study and synthesize course content.

How are SI leaders trained?

The Academic Learning Center SI coordinating team trains the SI leaders how to be effective facilitators and provides ongoing supervision. SI leaders are regularly observed and provided with feedback to improve their facilitation of SI. Continuous training is held throughout the semester.

How does SI work?

SI sessions are designed to help students become more actively involved in their learning. At each session, the SI leader guides the students through the course concepts while utilizing a variety of study strategies and group facilitation methods. SI leaders do not re-lecture, give out copies of their notes, complete students’ assignments, or encourage last minute test cramming. SI sessions help students apply, analyze, and synthesize course content.

What is in it for the student?

According to research by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, students who attend SI sessions statistically earn better grades. Research shows that students regularly average one half to one full letter grade higher than their classmates who choose not to attend. Students are also able to transfer the skills they learn to other classes that do not offer SI support.

Who can attend SI sessions?

SI is offered at no cost to all students currently-enrolled in the targeted section(s) of the SI course regardless of their level of academic preparedness and performance in the course. Students are encouraged to come to SI sessions as often as they like; research by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri at Kansas City shows the more students attend, the better their grades in the targeted SI course.

How do students know if SI is offered in their class?

Beginning in Spring 2015, the course sections with SI offered are flagged in the schedule of classes and in the Student Information Systems (SIS).  The SI leaders make an announcement about SI sessions the first week of class. Students are asked to complete a brief survey to provide guidance in determining the best time to offer SI sessions. The SI sessions usually begin the second week of class.  The list of SI courses can also be found on the Campus Tutoring Services page.

What is the cost?

SI is a non-remedial academic assistance program offered at no cost to all currently-enrolled students in targeted section(s) of the SI course.

How can I learn more about SI?

The University of Missouri at Kansas City’s website ( contains more information about SI. The SI program at the University of Northern Iowa is offered by the Academic Learning Center located in the Innovative Teaching and Technology Center (ITTC) 007/008. To contact the SI coordinating team, call (319) 273-6023.



Material is used with permission from the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Frequently Asked Questions. (2014). The International Center for Supplemental Instruction. Retrieved


Stone, M. E., & Jacobs, G. (Eds.). (2008). Supplemental Instruction: Improving first-year student success

in high-risk courses (Monograph No. 7, 3rd ed.). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina,
National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.