You are here: American University Provost Academic Access Supplemental Instruction Program at American University

Starting in Fall 2007, the Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program was implemented at American University. It is a non-remedial approach to learning that supports students toward academic success by integrating "what to learn" with "how to learn." SI consists of free, weekly group tutoring sessions driven by students' needs. Sessions are facilitated by trained peer leaders who utilize collaborative activities to ensure peer-to-peer interaction in small groups. SI groups historically difficult courses in consultation with academic staff and is managed and evaluated by a trained supervisor. (Adopted by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri-Kansas City)


SI Leaders are peer tutors who have taken the course before and earned a high grade. Faculty typically recommends the leaders who is assigned to their course. SI Leaders undergo a vigorous training process. The leaders are prepared to assist with students comprehending course material and share with how to effectively study for the course. SI Leaders attend the same class sessions with the students, taking notes and listening closely to the professor.

SI Leaders support the course by:

  • Modeling effective learning and studying practices
  • Co-facilitating activities during class
  • Leading weekly review sessions on course content
  • Creating supplemental study material such as sample problems and study guides (with faculty permission)
  • Students in SI session experience an active learning environment that emphasizes collaboration, group study, and interaction.
  • Due to the peer to peer nature of SI, students often feel more comfortable approaching their SI Leaders with questions rather than the professors
  • Allows students to learn effective study strategies through in classroom support and group tutoring sessions
  • Provides an opportunity for students to develop relationships with other students and staff, an important factor in retention.
  • Provide an objective lens to measure course progression, specifically topics that were easily grasped and topics that presented challenges,
  • Provide an opportunity to be more connected with the needs of their students,
  • Provide an opportunity for the faculty to professionally mentor a student, and
  • Have the potential for new and diverse perspective to enter the classroom.

According to national studies and American University statistics, on average, over 90% of SI attendees earn a passing grade (A, B, or C) compared to 87% or less of those who did not attend SI sessions.

Both positions provide academic assistance but vary to the degree that SI Leaders do not grade, nor do they create assignments or exams.

How to Apply

The SI openings are competitive, with priority going to faculty teaching historically difficulty courses, as well as those teaching foundational (100-300 level) courses that are essential to students within the discipline.

The Supplemental Instruction Program is pleased to announce the limited availability of SI Leader openings for the Fall 2020 semester. Electronic applications will be accepted through March 16, 2020.

Application for SI support signifies acknowledgment of the following guidelines:

  • SI applications must articulate how the enrolled students’ needs and course’s structure aligns with SI program goals of assisting students with their academic success and creating a learning environment that is conducive for active learning.
  • The SI program will consider the following factors for eligibility: 
    • Course’s Ds, Fs, and withdrawals (DFW) rate
    • Course enrollment (number of enrolled students)
    • Class structure including pedagogy and curriculum
    • Other academic supports available for the course requested (such as teaching assistants, peer leaders)
    • DFW data on course from previous semesters
    • Average number of sections of the course applied
  • The SI Review Panel which consist of three staff members from the Academic Support & Access Center (ASAC) will review each application and determine support based on the criteria mentioned above.
  • The SI Program does not permit the use of SI Leaders for grading purposes, including correcting papers or exams. Under no circumstance should SI Leaders grade or assess student work. If a faculty would like to have an SI Leader proctor an exam, please contact the SI staff at
  • Faculty are asked that they do the following to help support the SI program:
    • Providing resources for the SI Leader such as books and online materials,
    • Meeting with the SI Leader periodically throughout the semester,
    • Reiterating the benefits of utilizing the tutoring support periodically to students, and
    • Completing the mid and end of the semester evaluation.
  • During this final year of SI, each course will be evaluated for support based off the following:
    • Students’ attendance: less or more than 50% of enrollment participating,
    • Number of students per session: less or more than 50% of session have three attendees,
    • Course support metrics (cost efficiency of SI support versus other available academic support), and
    • The effectiveness of the SI program in enhancing student learning for the course.
  • Faculty members who have received an SI assignment in prior semesters must complete a full application with revised statements on the relationship and effectiveness of SI to the course.