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What Is Supplemental Instruction?

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support model that uses peer-assisted study sessions to improve student academic success in historically challenging courses. It is offered through the Academic Achievement Hub at UC San Diego.

What Happens at an SI Session?

When you attend an SI session, you will often be working with other students from your class. The SI Leader (an undergraduate student who has successfully completed the course) will ask questions and introduce activities focused on the demanding content covered in class. There will be no new material (SI Leaders attend all of your classes, so they always know what's going on in your class.) and no lecturing. You and your classmates will work on activities in which you apply the concepts and content taught in class. 

Does SI Work?

Supplemental Instruction is an evidence-based academic support model developed by Dr. Deanna Martin at the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 1973.[1]  

In the 1990s the U.S. Department of Education validated the effectiveness of SI. They found that:

  1. Students participating regularly in SI sessions 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.

  2. Students regularly participating in SI succeed at a higher rate (fewer withdraw from the course or receive failing course grades) than those who do not participate in SI.

  3. Students participating in SI show higher graduation rates than students who do not participate in SI[2]

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.[2]

Is SI Available for my Courses?

A current schedule of SI sessions may be found here.

If you do not see your course listed, you can

  1. Find out what other academic support offerings are available to you.
  2. Talk to you instructor or department about the possibility of adding SI sessions for your course. 

1. Burmeister, S. L. (1996). Supplemental Instruction: An interview with Deanna Martin. Journal of Developmental Education, 20(1), 22-24, 26.
2. Dawson, Phillip; van der Meer, Jacques; Skalicky, Jane; Cowley, Kym (2014). "On the Effectiveness of Supplemental Instruction A Systematic Review of Supplemental Instruction and Peer-Assisted Study Sessions Literature Between 2001 and 2010"Review of Educational Research84 (4): 609–639.