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Supplemental Instruction

Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions are peer-led review sessions for selected courses. The sessions are organized to allow students the opportunity to interact with their classmates as they construct knowledge.


SI sessions provide a chance for students to compare notes, discuss challenging concepts, and develop strategies for studying the subject. The sessions are facilitated by a trained SI leader, a student who has taken the course and earned a high grade. The leader shares with the students what he or she has learned about how to study effectively for the course. The leader attends all of the classes, taking notes and listening closely to the professor. The leader helps the students become independent learners by planning activities that encourage students to work together and process material themselves.

SI targets historically difficult courses that show a high rate of D, F, and W’s. Salem State has offered SI for more than 10 years in subject areas such as: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geological Sciences, Geography, Math, Psychology, World Languages and Cultures, and Sociology. 

Typically, the students who have attended SI sessions:

  • Improve their grade point average
  • Acquire short-term and long-term study skills
  • Learn how to prepare more thoroughly for exams, both content, and format
  • Learn how to organize class materials
  • Become better independent learners

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an SI Leader?

SI leaders are students who have taken the class before and earned a high grade. They are prepared to share with you how to study effectively for this course. They know the course content and will help guide you through it. They will also be in class with you every day, taking notes and listening closely to the professor.

How does it work?

At each session you will be guided through course concepts by your SI leader who has previously taken the course and has been trained in group facilitation techniques. Your SI leader will:

  • help you make good use of your study time
  • share with you the strategies he/she used to be successful in the course
  • help you think about the lectures you hear and the books you read
  • not re-lecture or give you his/her class notes
  • not do your homework or your thinking for you
  • put it all together into some perspective so you can learn it more efficiently

What's in it for me?

If you attend SI sessions regularly, chances are you'll earn a better grade. Research shows that students who attend SI sessions regularly average one-half to one full letter grade higher than their classmates who don't attend. When you attend SI, you'll develop a better understanding of course content as well as more effective ways of studying. You'll make a few new friends, too!

When do sessions start?

SI sessions start the first or second week of classes. Your SI leader will survey the class with a list of possible days and times for the optional sessions and select the time that works for the majority of the class. Your SI leader will keep you informed about the time and location for sessions. Each session will be different because you'll have new material to discuss. SI sessions are informal. Bring your notes; bring your textbook; bring your questions; bring your coffee!

What does it cost?

SI costs you nothing except your time. Assistance is free! Come as often as you like. Keep in mind, though, the statistics show that the more you come, the better your grade!

How will I know if SI is offered in my class?

The SI leader will introduce themselves on the first day.

What are my options if I cannot attend the weekly SI sessions?

SI sessions are an optional resource. We encourage you to meet with your professor during their office hours. In addition, there may be a peer tutor available for your course (please check TutorTrac). SI leaders are not available to tutor you one-on-one. Other free on-campus resources include the Math Lab, Writing Center, and the Accounting Lab.

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