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A Model For Implementing "Supplemental Instruction" In Engineering

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.24.1 - 2.24.12



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Paper Authors

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Rose M. Marra

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Thomas Litzinger

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1275

A Model for Implementing "Supplemental Instruction" in Engineering Rose M. Marra, Thomas A. Litzinger The Pennsylvania State University


Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a learning enhancement program. SI targets high risk courses instead of high risk students and offers assistance on an outreach basis in regularly scheduled, out of class sessions. The primary goal of SI is to facilitate students' mastery of the course concepts, however a secondary goal is to encourage students to develop better learning skills and strategies. A student who has received a high grade in a targeted SI course is trained to become an SI leader. As an SI leader, the student re–attends the course to model effective student behaviors, and conducts weekly SI sessions. During the SI sessions, SI leaders facilitate students' understanding of course material via interactive learning strategies which encourage involvement, comprehension and higher order reasoning skills. SI leaders do not re–teach or simply work problems on the board; rather they offer alternative perspectives and exercises designed to mirror the course content.

During Fall semester 1996, Penn State's College of Engineering piloted SI programs for two introductory courses in Mechanical Engineering — Engineering Thermodynamics and Machine Dynamics. Our SI program was piloted as a part of our larger Undergraduate Teaching Intern Program. The Teaching Intern (TI) Program allows undergraduate students to partner with a professor on a particular course in order to learn about the responsibilities of being a faculty member. TIs generally help with in-class activities, hold office hours, run review sessions, teach several class sessions and do some test construction and grading.

This paper provides an overview of both the SI and TI programs, specific details on how to run a course to train for these programs, and preliminary results of the SI program in terms of experiences of the three student SI leaders and achievement results of those students who attended SI sessions versus those who did not.

Overview of Supplemental Instruction

What is Supplemental Instruction?

Supplemental instruction is a program designed to proactively address student performance in high risk courses. Note that SI is targeted at particular courses as opposed to particular groups of students (Arendale, 1994; Widmar, 1994). The SI program consists mainly of optional “supplemental” instruction sessions; these sessions, which are led by an SI leader who has successfully completed the targeted course, have the following characteristics:

Marra, R. M., & Litzinger, T. (1997, June), A Model For Implementing "Supplemental Instruction" In Engineering Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6688

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