SI Faculty Resources
- Why my course?
- SI typically supports 100 and 200 level introductory,
core curriculum, or “gatekeeper” courses.
SI is part of your
class for several reasons, none of which has anything to do with
your ability to teach. The primary reason is because the class is a
historically difficult course or “killer course” wherein many students
struggle and fail, thus producing a high DFW rate for the course.
Rest assured you have not been singled out because someone out there thinks
you need support. The focus of
SI is the difficulty inherent within the course itself.
- Why do students struggle?
- There are a number of factors to consider. Some students have difficulty in
certain courses because the subject was not taught, or was taught differently, in
high school. For others, the depth and breadth of the course make it difficult for
students to organize; the material may be too conceptual when they are used to dealing
with things on a more concrete level. Still others may have difficulty with the class
size, sensing anonymity and obscurity with a new classroom format and structure. The
rigors of college-level courses often catch students off-guard. And lastly, some
students may need to further
develop their study skills.
- How much work will it be for me to have
- SI is coordinated through the
Center for Student Achievement. All we ask faculty in
SI-supported classes is that they provide the
- A few minutes at the beginning of class for the
SI Leader to make weekly announcements.
- Time to meet with the
SI Leader, allowing
him/her to keep faculty apprised of what’s happening in the
- If needed, test/exam scores for the students enrolled in the course.
- Will I have to change my teaching
No! SI attempts to help
students learn how to be
successful in the course,
regardless of the way you
teach. It is not our intention
to dictate how you should teach
your class. SI will support
your teaching. The SI Leader
will provide you with student
feedback on a weekly basis.
Because they regularly meet with
the students in smaller groups,
the SI Leaders may have insight
into concepts that are troubling
students, misunderstood test
questions, or unclear
assignments. If you would like,
your SI Leader can share this
information with you.
Understand, however, this
information is not intended to
be a criticism of your teaching.
- Will SI leaders just help students complete their homework?
- Absolutely NOT!
SI Leaders do
not facilitate the study groups so students can complete homework together,
write group papers, or complete take-home exams. On the contrary, the purpose
of SI is to help students become successful and independent learners. By doing
their work for them SI Leaders run the risk of making the students believe that
it is not necessary for them to understand the work or how to go about completing
their assignments. Instead, SI Leaders may discuss typical problems, create new problems,
or work problems that were not assigned.
SI Leaders may discuss how to organize material,
how to prepare for assignments or exams, or how to develop problem-solving abilities.
SI is intended to supplement what the students do on their own time. After attending
SI sessions, students should be better prepared to work problems alone, write a clear paper,
or prepare for an exam. SI supports students, not by doing the work for them, but by helping
them figure out how to do it successfully on their own.
- What goes on during SI sessions?
- A typical
SI session is an hour-long meeting in a classroom on campus and might include
a review of lecture and assigned readings, group work and discussion, problem-solving and
critical thinking activities, or a mock exam. The
SI Leader’s primary focus is to assist
students in understanding the course material while helping them to develop effective study
skills that are applicable to the content. The
SI Leaders will never structure SI sessions as a
forum to re-lecture to students who missed class.
- Isn’t SI simply a test preparation study group?
- No. While some students may attend
SI prior to an exam, national
data suggests that students who regularly attend
SI improve their class standing by one-half to one whole
letter grade. With this understanding, SI Leaders constantly promote
SI as guaranteed study time, encouraging
students to participate in SI on a weekly basis.
- What does the SI leader do in my class?
SI Leader’s class attendance has a twofold purpose:
- To model effective classroom behavior by arriving on time, listening, taking copious
lecture notes, reading assigned chapters prior to lecture, completing required assignments, and
observing what’s happening in the classroom.
- To gather information which will help him/her gain a sense of what you expect from your
students regarding concepts and ideas you emphasize in lecture. It also helps the
SI Leader to process
the information he/she will use during
- Are SI Leaders teachers?
SI Leaders are typically undergraduate students. They happen to be excellent
students, but they are still students. They do not have to know everything about the subject because they are neither teacher
nor expert. The SI Leader’s job is to lead small group study sessions in an effort to help others learn how to be good students
in the class.
SI Leaders have taken the course, so they know what students need to do to be successful.
SI Leaders lead discussions about the
course content not only to help students focus and better understand but also to help them learn how to figure it out on their own.
SI Leaders help student learn how to identify key points, problem solve, organize and remember, prepare for exams, etc.
While they may talk about the lecture, review the textbook, and identify important concepts and topics,
SI Leaders are not the “answer people.”
Their focus is on helping students develop the skills they need to succeed.
SI Leaders are not there to teach the lesson; they are there to help
students figure out how to learn the lesson.
- What is the SI leader NOT permitted to do?
SI Leader is NOT available for grading exams or papers, or to proctor exams. As a rule, we
request that you not ask SI Leaders to run copies or errands or to distribute exams, graded papers, and other class literature. It’s important for
the SI Leader to maintain his/her peer status among the students in the class.
SI Leaders are paid to attend class, keep up with the material, and run study group sessions.
SI Leaders typically do not answer questions you ask the class; they are not there as a student. The
SI Leader is in class to get a better sense of the area emphasized during
lectures so that they can design and develop more focused
- What if I have concerns about the SI leader?
- Immediately call the Coordinator of Supplemental Instruction (410-677-4842) to discuss your concerns and to resolve the issue.
- Can I give extra credit for SI attendance?
- As a rule, we do not support providing extra credit to students for attending an
SI session for the following three reasons:
- Some students may not be able to attend
SI because of schedule conflicts. As a result these students would have no way to participate in the extra credit.
- Asking the SI Leaders to police the sign-in sheets gives conflicting messages. For example, if a person attends the
SI session for five minutes – signs
in and then leaves – should the
SI Leader report it or ignore it? Having to monitor attendance in such a way takes the
SI Leader’s attention away from the purpose of
- 3. Lastly, in an attempt to analyze the effects of
SI participation, it would be undesirable to have a student’s grade artificially enhanced by “bonus points” given merely for having a
name show up on an attendance sheet. If there is any effect to be gained through
SI attendance, we would like to be able to say with greater confidence that is was the result of what was
experienced during SI.
- What’s the difference between SI leaders and tutors?
- There are number of things that differentiate the two
- Instead of working one-on-one within a particular subject (e.g., chemistry),
SI Leaders support a specific course (such as Chem 121: Chemistry)
and facilitate small group
- SI Leaders also attend class with the students and then develop
SI sessions that support or supplement the lectures for that course.
- Whereas students go for tutoring with particular questions in mind,
SI leaders design and facilitate their session agenda, focusing on key course concepts.
- How are classes picked for SI?
- Historically difficult courses are identified simply by virtue of their high rate of unsuccessful completions (Ds, Fs, Ws). Over time these courses have
demonstrated their difficulty regardless of the faculty who teach them or the material that is used. At SU there is the sense that these courses are difficult for any student, although some students
struggle more than others. To support a difficult course with
SI, the Coordinator first seeks departmental approval.
- How can students find SI sessions?
SI support is promoted in a variety of ways:
SI Leaders make introductory SI
announcements, distribute program brochures,
and post SI Flyers. Following that, SI
Leaders make weekly announcements reminding
students of the session schedule and
offering “teasers” about SI session
activities. Additionally, the master SI
session schedule is always posted on our
website and shared during class times.
Students can also seek additional information about
SI (session locations, days, and times) in the following ways:
- Visit the Center for Student Achievement (GUC 213) for a hard copy of the master
SI session schedule.
- Call or check online
- Is the Center for Student Achievement interested in SI Leader referrals?
Absolutely! We use a variety of publicity methods to attract qualified students for
SI leader positions, but
we need faculty’s help. Courses have the greatest chance of offering
SI support when a
student is identified as a potential candidate in the preceding semester. Faculty recommendations are our most important and valuable source of applicants.
- How are the SI Leaders trained?
- Each year
SI leaders are mandated to attend an intensive two-day
SI training program which is always held just before the start of the term,
so SI Leaders are ready to begin working and attending the lecture on the first day of class. Training topics include:
- The role of the SI Leader
- Developing working relationships with faculty
- Planning and conducting
- SI sessions samples and demonstrations
- Study skills assessment and collaborative learning techniques
- Public speaking: SI announcements in the classroom
- Policies & Procedures
- Evaluation Procedures
- Throughout the term
SI Leaders also receive in-service training in areas
such as the following:
- Building rapport with students
- Group facilitation and leadership
- Handling Q&A and
- Communication skills
- Creative thinking and
- What’s in it for the SI Leaders?
- Working as an
SI Leader is a great part-time, on-campus job with flexible hours.
SI Leaders not only receive valuable training,
they also get excellent teaching and tutoring experience that can only help solidify their own foundation, subject knowledge, and core understanding of course concepts. Moreover, the
Leaders can expect secondary benefits such as improved skills (interpersonal, communication, problem-solving, leadership, and time management), involvement in friendships, knowledge of the
campus layout and student resources, plus an overall connection to the University.
- How is the SI Program evaluated?
- The Center for Student Achievement has an extensive semester-end and year-end evaluation process for the
SI Program that includes the following:
- SI Leader Evaluation – During the semester, the
SI Leader is observed facilitating sessions on 2 or 3 separate occasions by a
SI Coordinator. A
Student Evaluation is administered to students enrolled in an
have an opportunity to evaluate the
SI Leader and the SI Program at the end of each semester.
- SI vs. non-SI data – The CSA analyzes data from each course, total number of visits to
SI and final course grades of each student enrolled in the
A data summary is then shared with faculty and
SI leaders and often used to promote and market the
For additional questions about the SI
program, please contact Heather Porter, Assistant Director for
Academic Support & Supplemental Instruction, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-677-4842.