Supplemental Instruction

Supplemental Instruction (SI) is provided in some classes at Fayetteville State University.  In this program, SI Leaders provide three one-hour sessions of academic support each week.  Since the SI Leader attends class, he or she knows what the course instructor has covered in class.  SI Leaders reinforce the knowledge and skills required by the class.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical SI Center space is currently unavailable to students. We are offering online support via Upswing, Canvas, and Zoom for various courses. Contact University College at 910-672-2455 for more information.

What We Do


Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a method of academic support that has proven effective in improving student academic success in courses with traditionally high dropout and withdrawal rates. Established initially in 1973 at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, this model of academic support was designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an "Exemplary Educational Program," and is used in more than 900 colleges and universities in 12 countries.

In this model of academic support, courses with historically high withdrawal and failure rates are targeted for academic support. Student leaders, who have proven their competence in the targeted courses and have been approved by the faculty, are assigned as Supplemental Instruction Leaders. After receiving appropriate training in learning styles and study skills, SI leaders attend meetings of the targeted class and take notes and, working in consultation with the course instructor, conduct supplemental instruction sessions each week. In these sessions, SI leaders review notes, conduct practice quizzes, and carry out additional assignments to reinforce the knowledge and skills required by the class. A significant advantage of SI over other academic support models is that it targets high-risk courses instead of high-risk students. Since it is open to all students in high-risk courses, it does not have the stigma that is sometimes attached to tutoring and academic support. SI promotes increased student collaboration and reinforces good study habits, which can have a positive impact on a student's overall academic performance. The U.S. Department of Education has validated each of the following claims about the impact of SI on student academic success:

  • Students who participate in Supplemental Instruction earn higher mean final grades that those who do not participate, regardless of ethnicity or prior academic achievement of the students.
  • Students who participate in SI have a lower percentage of withdrawals and final grades of D or F than students who do not participate in SI, regardless of ethnicity or prior academic achievement of the students.
  • Students who participate in SI have higher retention and graduation rates than those who do not participate, regardless of ethnicity or prior academic achievement of the students.

A study conducted at the University of Texas - Austin was designed to determine if the gains attributed to SI are the result of student motivation. Perhaps the students motivated to attend SI are students who would do well in the class without additional assistance. The study concluded that, "...attendance at SI continues to predict course grade even after controlling for student motivation."

Keys to a Successful SI Program

  • Students selected as Supplemental Instruction leaders must be good students, who are willing to fulfill all of their responsibilities.
  • SI leaders must receive appropriate training and their work must be monitored carefully.
  • Faculty members must give effective direction to the SI leader(s) assigned to them. This includes giving SI leaders specific instructions on the material (quizzes, concepts, demonstrations) to be covered in the SI sessions.
  • Faculty members must regularly encourage and/or require students to participate in SI sessions. The program will fail without regular and consistent efforts by faculty to encourage students to take advantage of SI sessions. We must make special efforts to encourage and persuade poor-performing students to participate in SI sessions. (Otherwise, the program will not help the students who need it the most.)

Role of Faculty Members

Participation by faculty members in SI is completely voluntary. Those who agree to participate will be expected to:

  • Help identify qualified students to serve as SI leaders.
  • Meet for one hour each week with the SI leader to give directions on information, concepts, and questions to be covered in the SI session each week. Information covered during SI sessions should reinforce the most essential and difficult information covered in the class during the week.
  • Encourage and persuade students, especially students performing poorly in the class, to attend SI sessions.
  • Permit the SI leader to announce in class the times and locations for SI instruction.
  • Provide data to the SI Coordinator regarding student attendance at SI and final course grades.


The SI program is assessed by comparing final course grades to student participation in SI. The percentage of students with final grades of A, B, or C are compared to the percentages prior to the implementation of SI. Faculty, SI leaders, and participating students are also asked to evaluate the program.

Extension Grade Contracts

An extension grade allows students who complete all course requirements, participate in academic support, and still earn a D or F, to protect their GPA while repeating the course the next semester. C

**University College is offering online academic support via Upswing. Access Upswing through your FSU Engage Portal or through any of your courses in Canvas.

***For more information about Extension Grade Contracts, visit the FSU website to access the FSU Undergraduate Catalog --> Academic Regulations -->Extension Grade Policy. You can also contact University College at 910-672-2455.