Supplemental Instruction

Resources for Faculty

Supplemental Instruction

What is the Supplemental Instruction Program?

The Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program is a peer-led study group, which provides academic support to students in traditionally difficult courses to help them become successful.  

SI sessions are facilitated by Supplemental Instruction Leaders (SILs), peer students, who have previously completed the targeted course and have demonstrated competency in the course.  In sessions, students are introduced to various study skills and strategies in addition to course content practice, which enable them to become successful in all their college courses.

Sessions are offered regularly each week in person to ensure maximum engagement.  During the typical session, students will have the opportunity to clarify/compare their notes with their classmates, review all required reading assignments, and discuss key course concepts.  

Though it is important to grasp key functions of the SI Program, it is equally important to understand that SI is not a remedial program.  SI is a free and voluntary program that is open to all students, which eliminates the stigma that only certain students should come to sessions.  SI strives to maintain a non-remedial, non-threatening, and non-punitive image. 

Supplemental Instruction:

  • Supports high-risk courses rather than high-risk students. 
  • Allows and encourages all students from the selected course to attend sessions.
  • Supports the course throughout the semester and not just prior to exams.

The Purpose of SI Program:

  • To increase retention within targeted and historically difficult courses
  • To improve student grades
  • To increase the graduation rates of students

What is the role of the SIL?

SILs facilitate peer-study sessions with the students in their assigned course.  During sessions, the Leaders will be utilizing specific study skills that have helped them in becoming successful students.

During the first week of classes, the SIL will introduce the SI Program to the students in the course.  The Leader will be making regular announcements via Canvas each week to remind students of session times and possible activities or focus areas that will appear in the sessions.  These weekly announcements are designed to increase and maintain participation in the SI Program.

The SI sessions help students grasp important course content by understanding how to learn and what to learn.  As the students review course content, they are gaining study skills and strategies, which allow them to focus their study efforts.  In addition, these study skills will enable them to be more successful as they continue their collegiate journey. 

What is the instructor’s role in Supplemental Instruction?

  • Faculty members with SI Leader (SIL) assigned to their courses are asked to:
  • Allow the SIL to make weekly announcements in class regarding SI Sessions
  • Promote SI session attendance in class
  • Post SI session schedules in classroom, on syllabus and Blackboard
  • Provide copies of the course textbook and supplemental materials required for the course
  • Provide the SIL course supplements and study materials in advance
  • Meet with the SIL to review session materials and discuss class content

The most important element to the success of the SI Program is the endorsement of the faculty. Faculty members do not supervise or train SILs, but when instructors encourage their students to attend SI sessions, attendance has been shown to increase. Also important to the success of the program is regular communication between the SIL and the instructor. Faculty members can help the SIL understand course expectations and how to help prepare students for the course. Additionally, the faculty member can provide resources to the student SIL to aid in planning and organizing the sessions.

Faculty members are not responsible for training, supervising SILs, or for enforcing student participation, which is strictly voluntary. Faculty support is vital to the success of the program and each faculty member is encouraged to promote SI sessions to students enrolled in the course. Faculty who support SI and endorse the program yields higher student attendance at SI sessions.

What should faculty members expect from SILs? 

In order for the SI Program to achieve the highest potential, we would like to develop a close working relationship with each faculty member in the courses that we support.  There are a few areas we would like each faculty member to help us with throughout the semester:

  • Faculty endorsement for all students, not just those who struggle, helps to prevent the stigma that only those who are failing should attend SI sessions.  A wide variety of skill levels in SI sessions allows students to help each other learn the course material.  Therefore, it is important to encourage all students to attend sessions.

  • One of the best ways that faculty members can support the SI Program is by mentioning the program frequently in lectures and on Canvas.  This reminds students of sessions and positively encourages the participation in the program. 

The SILs are expected to make regular visits with the faculty member conducting their assigned course. We ask that you please make yourself available for meetings with the SIL.  These meetings enable the Leaders to inform the faculty members of any problems they are experiencing during sessions or course content students are struggling with.  Ideally if a Leader is having trouble reviewing a certain aspect of the course with the students, then the faculty member may be able to offer a different approach to the problem, which can be relayed back to the students.  

It is very important that the SIL is not compared to a Graduate or Teaching Assistant in the course.  It is commonly accepted that GAs and TAs are content specialists within a certain field, whereas SILs are model students who have done well in a particular course.  The chart below emphasizes the key differences between SILs, Gas, and TAs.

Characteristic Model student Content specialists
Status Peer Academic elite
Goal Helps students to be successful Teaches subject matter only
Mode Group participation/ collaborative learning Passive learning in response to instructor’s queries
Orientation Student-Oriented Professor-Oriented
Instructional Duties Leads group—Leaves teaching to the professor Re-lectures or re-teaches group


What are the benefits of having SIL with my course?

The SI Program provides three helpful functions to students.

1.       Provides guaranteed study time.

2.       Offers a non-punitive learning environment.

3.       Creates a smaller, more comfortable-sized study setting.

How will SI affect my class time?

Instructors are asked to promote and allow SILs to use time to:

  • Introduce SI
  • Promote SI, and
  • Verbally announce times and locations of SI sessions


In order to provide feedback to the students, course instructors and SILs, the Coordinator of Academic Support will prepare exam reports after each test.  The purpose of these reports is to compare the test performance of the students who attended SIL sessions to the test performance of those who did not attend SI sessions.  As the semester progresses, the differences between the two sets of grades generally increases.  When students can see that those who attend SI sessions are scoring better on exams than those who did not attend, we think it serves as a motivator for attendance.  

To collect this data, we are asking course instructors to give TA access on Canvas each semester to the Coordinator of Academic Support, Rhiannon (Dolly) Meyer.  After each test, she will pull the grades and prepare the Exam Report.  These summary reports will then be shared with the course instructor and the SI.  No individual grades are shared with the SI. The SILs are then encouraged to share the Exam Report with their classes.  Please contact Rhiannon (Dolly) Meyer for a sample of this report.  

We also ask course instructors to give “SI” or “Tutor” access to their SIL each semester.  This allows the SIL to make announcements regarding their sessions on Canvas on a regular basis.  You can give access to both individuals by contacting the Office of Digital Learning at, or by adding them to their course with their UT Tyler email.


Why was my course chosen?
The purpose of SI is to target historically difficult courses.  In other words, this course contains content that students consider to be challenging.  SI is designed to support the faculty that teaches a course and is not assigned based on the manner in which the course is taught.

Why do students struggle?
Students struggle for various reasons through their academic career.  One of the main factors is that the classes they are taking now were not taught in high school or they were taught differently in high school.  Other students struggle because they have a difficult time learning how to organize their course work and depend on poor study skills.  Therefore, SI focuses on helping students understand what to learn and how to learn.

What do we need from you?
Above all else, we need your support of the program.  By allowing SILs to make announcements in Canvas and positively promoting the program, students will be more likely to attend.  This will make the students and the class as a whole more successful.

Do SILs do homework in sessions?
While SILs may review some homework problems in their sessions, the purpose of SI is not to help students complete their homework. If desired, you may request that no homework be completed in sessions when you meet with your SIL at the beginning of the semester.  The program is designed to help students learn new study skills, which will benefit them throughout their academic careers and offer practice opportunities for course content.

Is SI just for test prep?
While some students will only come to SI sessions just before the exams, the SI program is not designed to be used as a test prep exercise. Statistics have shown that when SI is attended regularly throughout the semester, students’ are more successful than just attending prior to a test. The SILs do not re-lecture or re-teach any of the course materials.  They simply provide an avenue for review of the material while re-enforcing positive study skills and techniques.

What are SILs not permitted to do?
SILs are not permitted to grade exams or papers.  We also request that the SIL not run errands or distribute exams, graded papers, or other in-class literature in order to maintain a “peer” status.  

Other Questions?

If you have other questions or concerns, call or e-mail Rhiannon (Dolly) Meyer at 903.565.5549