CofC Logo

What is a Supplemental Leader?

SI is an academic support program attached to historically difficult courses across the College.  The program helps to improve student learning by providing regularly scheduled out-of-class study session facilitated by an undergraduate student who has taken and excelled in the class. The SI leader guides the students through course material by facilitating group discussion on important concepts; helping students develop appropriate learning strategies and study strategies; helping with problem solving methodology, and actively engaging students in learning. Sessions are scheduled 3 times per week for 1 hour, but students are usually encouraged to try and attend at least one of the three SI sessions per week. SI is not just for students who are doing poorly in the class. Any student who wishes to improve their understanding of concepts discussed in the course is encouraged to go to SI; however, attendance is voluntary.

What is a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader?

SI Leaders facilitate an active learning environment which encourages students to discuss, practice, inquire, apply, interpret, and analyze course material in a collaborative group setting. SI leaders also develop sessions which model effective learning strategies and study strategies that will help students learn how to master course content on their own. SI Leaders:

  • are students who have taken this course before and have excelled in the course.
  • are students who have excelled in their courses and come highly recommended by their professors.
  • attend intensive and on-going training on conducting SI sessions and how to facilitate student learning effectively.
  • are supervised by trained professional staff affiliated with the College of Charleston Center for Student Learning.
  • attend the course again, take notes, participate in class activities, do assigned readings, and take exams.

What are the goals of the SI Program?

The goal of SI is to help students succeed in the course by helping them understand how to learn course information and concepts. This is done by:
  • Modeling study skills strategies that students can use in their own studying and are transferable to other courses.
  • Helping students understand how to plan for the demands of college-level courses by providing frequent interactions with and guidance by a successful college student (the SI Leader).
  • Using effective collaborative learning strategies (study groups) to enhance their understanding of course material.
  • Providing active and guided practice applying, synthesizing and evaluating course material and concepts.
  • Providing ongoing feedback from the SI Leader and their peers to deepen understanding and correct misconceptions.
  • Helping student become more independent learners by assisting them develop and use course resources (lecture notes, text, supplements etc...) effectively.
  • Providing assistance with test-taking skills.

Why was my course selected for SI?

  • SI targets historically difficult subjects. In other words, this subject contains content that students consider to be challenging. SI is designed to support faculty teaching and is assigned to a subject because of what is being taught, not because of the manner in which it is being taught.

    How are SI Leaders compensated?

    • SI Leaders are paid $9.50 per hour for 9-10 hours of work per week. This includes time attending class, running three 1-hr SI sessions per week, preparation time, weekly office hours, and on-going bi-monthly meetings.

    What can you expect SI Leaders to do during an SI session?

    • SI leaders generally come prepared with something for the students to do. Such as:
      • working in teams on practice quizzes.
      • learning problem solving techniques.
      • how to take, review and organize your notes effectively.
      • predicting test questions and learning more about the kinds of questions that may appear on exams or quizzes.
      • activities to help you learn the language (vocabulary) of the discipline.
      • critical reviews of your exams to help you tailor your studying to fix common test-taking problems.
      • SI Leaders DO NOT re-teach or re-lecture. They are trained to facilitate learning by helping students to organize knowledge, develop problem-solving skills, use available resources (textbook, lecture notes) to answer questions, and work effectively with their peers.

    Why is SI effective?

    • The SI Leader attends classes, and usually has had that professor for that class when they first took it. This helps the SI Leader to focus the strategies used in their sessions to the learning goals, and methods unique to each instructor.
    • SI Leaders attend class and can therefore act as a role model to the whole class.
    • SI leaders are trained active and collaborative learning techniques, and study skill/learning strategies.
    • SI Leaders are trained to help students learn how to learn, rather than to simply answer student questions.

    What SI Leaders are NOT!

    • Supplemental INSTRUCTORS!
    • Guest lecturers
    • Graders
    • Teaching or lab assistants
    • Exam proctors
    • Gofers

    What should I expect from the SI Program?

    • That we will cooperate with faculty in selecting candidates for SI leaders and place leaders only with the approval of the cooperating faculty member; train all SI leaders according to established guidelines and standards; monitor the activities and presentations of SI leaders for as long as necessary by helping plan sessions and supervising their performance; provide supplies, training, in-service experiences, consultations for SI leaders; provide cooperating faculty with an end-of-term comparative analysis of student performance.