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March 2002 Issue

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Supplemental Instruction (SI)

Developing An SI Proposal

By Barbara Stout former of University of Pittsburgh SI supervisor, Email:

and Jeanne Wiatr, SI Supervisor, Univ. of Memphis. Email: Jeannewiatr@yahoo.com

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In the past several issues we have presented a look at establishing and growing an SI program at the University of Pittsburgh.  The series of articles provided practical information that could put you on track for developing or evolving your own SI program.  Reading and then doing something about the information are very different things so in our final article we want to summarize the series and provide an outline to help you formalize your thoughts about SI at your institution.  Please use the following as a worksheet for getting your thoughts organized.


Decide on your campus in what office or with what person you can start a discussion about adding a proactive, cost effective, academic support program for students.  Possible leads include the Provost, Deans of schools, Chairs of departments and division heads. 

Identify likely people who influence how dollars are spent for academic support on your campus.


This is really a matter of placing the program.  Knowing where you will be functioning within your institution will help determine the source of funding needed to be developed.

Attaching to a pre-existing program is a path of least resistance.  Particular needs identified in specific schools or colleges might invite the expense of an innovative program that can be tailored to their needs.  Faculty interested in researching the identification and assistance of students in specific courses is also a good funding source.

Identify where you will consider placing an SI program. 


Contact faculty members to develop a dialog about at-risk courses, deficiencies they see in students, and support available or absent within a department to assist students.

Likely contacts include department chairs, curriculum committee members, and individual professors.

Identify faculty members likely to cooperate in a pilot SI program.


Depending on placement of the program supervisory personnel might fall into place.  If you attach to a pre-existing program you will need to work with the people on board in that department.  The head of the department or division you are working with may not be directly involved in the administration of SI but may serve as your liaison between administration and program.  When piloting a program the supervision of the day-to-day program will most likely become part of someone’s job description, as the program grows a fulltime supervising position may be warranted. Cooperating faculty should be clearly named, as should students who will be functioning as SI leaders.  Don’t forget to check out how some of your clerical needs can be addressed by available office staff.

Identify who might function as your administrative liaison, coordinator/supervisor of SI, cooperating faculty, SI leaders and clerical assistance.


The supervisor of the program should have a firm job description whether they are fulltime or SI is a function of another job.  Clearly state the need to recruit and train leaders, develop a communication loop with faculty, execute observations and meet with leaders routinely, and gather data necessary to develop 1st exam and term end reports. 

Outline an SI supervisor job description.


Getting started with students who will serve as your initial SI leaders shouldn’t be too difficult.  Looking at students already serving in learning support capacities is a great way to start.  Students who have some orientation helping others learn suggest people that have a mindset with which you could work.  It is critical to train those first leaders in the SI model and provide a clear orientation to the concept of facilitating others learning not training mini-professors.  Getting students with outstanding people skills that respect the struggle some face in certain courses should also be of concern.  Look at students who already function as tutors or in roles of student-to student learning support in departments.



Seek out UMKC supervisor training sessions as soon as possible in order to provide a viable coordinator of program and trainer for leaders as well as orientation for cooperating faculty.  Develop a leader recruiting and training format.

For SI training information contact:  Sydney Stansbury   StansburyS@UMKC.EDU

For SI discussions consider joining the SI listserv:    SINET@LISTSERV.UMKC.EDU



Part of the attraction of the SI model is the built-in recommendations for evaluation and data collection.  The opportunity to collect data assessing effectiveness of program and ongoing evaluation by supervisors, leaders and cooperating faculty provide the primary, secondary and tertiary data needed to answer questions about your program and to validate its existence.  Develop strong communication loops with all cooperating parties from the onset of a program and seek feedback.

Seeking out answers to these questions will provide a good foundation to an SI proposal for a new or existing program.  There is a wealth of resources available for your support and we would be glad to help as needed.  Now is the time to look ahead to fall and summer is a great time to attend to details.  Good luck setting up your SI program. 


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