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 Supplemental Instruction (SI) program at American University is competitive, and priority is given to faculty of traditionally difficult courses and of foundational courses (100-300 level courses) essential to academic programs.

The SI Program will embed SI Leaders in courses, and they will partner with faculty to provide in-class support and assess student learning and comprehension. SI Leaders are current American University students who have previously taken and passed their SI-supported course with an A or A-, who can articulate course content well and engage their peers academically. Using out-of-class, peer-to-peer collaboration, SI Leaders will bridge course content that aims to increase student confidence and independence.

Fall 2022 Applications

All SI applications must articulate how the SI Leaders’ support in class and SI sessions outside of class will enhance the learning experience of enrolled students and help students achieve their academic goals.

Faculty who have received an SI Leader for their course in prior semesters must complete a full application with revised statements on the relationship and effectiveness of SI support.

The SI Review Panel will review each application and determine SI support based on eligibility requirements below:

  • Faculty must provide opportunities for SI Leaders to engage with students in class.

  • Faculty must teach synchronous or live courses.

  • Faculty must reiterate the benefits of attending SI sessions to students.

  • Faculty and SI Leaders must meet regularly throughout the semester.

  • SI Leaders must be supplied with resources essential to class such as online materials.

  • SI Leaders must not grade student work, deliver course lectures, or proctor exams.

  • SI Leaders are not to be used as Teaching Assistants or to be used to replace office hours.

Each course will be evaluated for SI support based upon the following data:

  • Course structure including pedagogy and curriculum,
  • Course D, F, and Withdrawal Rates (DFW rate), and
  • Total course enrollment.

Returning faculty will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Overall SI Leader session attendance,
  • Number of students per SI session, and
  • Course support metrics (cost efficiency of SI support versus existing academic support).

Electronic applications will be accepted through July 18, 2022.

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