Advising Office

SI: Supplemental Instruction

What are the benefits of SI? How is it different from tutoring?

On the surface, Supplemental Instruction (SI) may appear to be a contemporary, saccharine take on the typical, run-of-the-mill tutoring group. To look at the numbers – specifically, SI’s statistics of academic growth from colleges around the globe – SI’s effectiveness is evident and the progress students make as a whole is considerable. However, SI is far more than just a glorified, college-based tutoring program. Rather than focusing solely on the subject matter of the next test, SI’s priorities are life lessons that matter most.

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support program designed to help students in historically difficult classes. Developed more than 30 years ago at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, SI increases academic performance and retention through collaborative learning strategies.

SI offers sessions outside of class that are led by undergraduate students who have mastered the course material. Often, these SI Leaders have taken the course from the same professor as the students attending SI. By integrating what to learn with how to learn, the SI Leaders prepare students to succeed in their SI course and beyond. SI Leaders are selected based on their academic performance and desire to help students. They receive training and supervision each semester to facilitate effective sessions.

National data shows that students who attend SI regularly earn higher grades and are less likely to withdraw from courses, which results in higher retention and graduation rates. The program has been just as effective, if not more so, in helping Florida College students improve, learn, and succeed.

To best explain the most significant contrast between the average tutoring group and SI, Alumni Jared Saltz, one of SI’s former student mentors, quoted a familiar Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man and you feed him for a lifetime.” As Saltz went on to explain, regular cramming sessions are about shoving as many facts and dates and numbers into one’s head, whereas SI is focused on helping students make the transition to becoming lifelong learners. The scheme of SI is much grander and, in truth, much more daunting than a tutoring session. Still, in the end, the benefits of attending SI meetings far outweigh the everyday study session and the passing exam grade it may earn a student.

Secondly, the next largest difference between tutoring and SI is the individual overseeing FC students’ academic success. Going to a regular tutor will result in a student being taught by a teacher’s whose job it is to cover indicated material. SI sessions are lead by students who have already taken and excelled in the certain class. Not only do SI leaders understand the common struggles fellow students go through, but they also have a better chance of connecting with the needy students and of explaining material so that their peers can understand it. SI leaders can relate in terms of having already experienced the class and gotten to know the professor. Finally, students are typically more willing to ask questions of their fellow students and feel less apprehension about asking for extra clarification.

SI has so much to offer any struggling student on campus, or even a student that simply needs another way of studying material. Most sessions will take around an hour of time, which could have been otherwise wasted or spent in confusion and struggle over notes and homework. SI not only teaches students the material that teachers have covered in class, but how to prepare and test themselves in terms of studying for the future. The SI leaders are all friendly, hard-working students, ready and willing to help make a difference in each student’s grades and habits.

Download the latest SI Calendar.