1. What is Supplemental Instruction (SI)?

 Supplemental instruction is a peer-assisted study and learning method provided free of charge to students in historically challenging courses at MTSU.  SI is a non-remedial approach to learning and understanding that significantly increases student performance and long-term success. 

 SI sessions are organized and facilitated by an SI leader, typically a student that has already taken the course to which they are assigned, and who has demonstrated mastery of the course material, as well as preparation and studying for the course itself. These leaders are professionally and rigorously trained to coordinate SI sessions that tap into the energy and resources of the group in attendance, and they work very hard to create a space where students can meet to increase comprehension of course content, review and discuss important concepts and ideas, develop and share study strategies, study for exams, etc. in an open, interactive, and respectful environment. 

2. How can I locate SI for my class? 

Click HERE to access a list of currently scheduled SI sessions by course, section, and instructor. New sessions are updated as soon as they are scheduled, so feel free to check back often, or contact Dr. Cornelia Wills at Cornelia.Wills@mtsu.edu for more information. 

3. What is an SI leader? 

SI leaders are carefully selected and rigorously trained “near peers” that demonstrate high levels of proficiency in the courses and subject areas in which they work.   They are typically strongly recommended by MTSU faculty, and work closely with the professors to whose courses they are assigned.  Leaders facilitate multiple SI sessions per week, and are prepared to guide you through the course content as well as various strategies built around learning and integrating material into your broader repertoire of knowledge.  SI leaders are embedded in your courses with you, which means that they attend lectures and regular course meetings alongside their fellow students.  Their primary job is to help you think critically about course content, readings, assignments, and related material.  In short, your SI leader is a professional that will bring together course content and study skills to help you learn more efficiently and effectively. 

4. Will my professor or instructor be there? 

No.  SI is an “instructor-free zone.”  The core of supplemental instruction learning involves peer-to-peer communication in an open, collaborative, and respectful environment.  Your SI leader will create and introduce exercises, activities, games, and other resources to help you learn in creative, interactive, engaging, and fun ways that differ significantly from typical “classroom” or “lecture” learning.  While your professor or instructor will not be present, SI is NEVER a replacement for regular class attendance and effective communication with your advisors, professors, or instructors. 

5. Who attends SI? 

SI is available to all students registered for a specific course, which will be designated as a “Supplemental Instruction” course in Pipeline. So even if your SI leader does not regularly attend your specific course section, rest assured that they are attending another section of the same course, taught by the same professor or instructor.  And you can still attend the SI sessions for that course.  SI is designed for students that want to improve their comprehension of course content, and to improve their grades in historically challenging courses.  

SI is NOT designed exclusively for those students that are “high-risk,” “at risk,” or “struggling” and there is no remedial stigma attached to using this resource. In fact, students of varying backgrounds and competencies learn collaboratively from each other in the ideal SI session.  Research around the world suggests that students from all academic backgrounds and learning abilities benefit from SI participation, and many finish their courses with, on average, a half to full letter grade higher than their peers that do not participate! 

6. What am I expected to do at an SI session? 

SI sessions are active and collaborative, but you will not be “forced” to do or participate in anything that you do not want. Still, what you can expect to “get out” of SI tends to be proportional to what you “put in.”  As a result, you are expected to come prepared to interact, participate, and study, so bring course materials, lecture notes, writing utensils, handouts, and questions to your sessions.  SI is also not a “point-in-time” fix for challenging courses (meaning that if you come to one session, you can expect to reap full benefits of the program).  Instead, SI works best if it is integrated into your schedule as a regular part of your week, thereby “supplementing” and working alongside your courses.  

Even if you attend SI, you are still expected to attend regular class meetings. SI is academic support for your course, not a substitute for the course itself.  

7. How will I likely benefit from SI? 

SI programs tend to benefit everyone, even SI leaders and faculty. Students that attend SI sessions report higher course grades, display improved study skills, and increased short- and long-term academic success.   SI leaders enjoy improved leadership and communication skills; better working relationships with faculty and other university leaders; and a deeper understanding of the content with which they work.  Faculty benefit from increased academic support, and regular communication with their SI leaders regarding the content of SI sessions and the needs of their students. 

8. When do SI sessions begin and end? 

SI sessions begin the first week of classes, and end during the week of final exams. SI leaders frequently schedule additional study sessions throughout the semester (based on student demand), so pay attention to those extra sessions during peak study times like mid-terms and finals.  But remember – regular SI attendance is significantly more beneficial to you, compared to isolated, sporadic attendance.  But every bit helps, and some attendance is typically always better than none. 

9. How much does SI cost? 

As the old adage goes – nothing is life is free.  Well, except SI, that is!  Supplemental Instruction is offered FREE to MTSU students enrolled in SI-supported courses.  You are encouraged to come as often as you can, as statistics suggest that you will accrue more benefits with more frequent attendance.  The only things asked of you are your time, effort, and attention.  

10. I haven’t yet attended SI sessions and it’s later in the semester. Can I still start SI sessions now? 

Absolutely!  Better late than never, right?  SI is most effective when you attend on a regular basis, but new attendees are always welcome.  Remember that SI sessions tend to proceed alongside course content within the semester, so please do not assume that you can cram weeks of study and material into one or two SI sessions.  You will have an opportunity to provide input to your SI leaders with regard to session content, but ultimately those leaders are responsible for facilitating discussion and collaboration among everyone present, not just you.