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Successfully Applying The Supplemental Instruction Model To Sophomore Level Engineering Courses

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.911.1 - 6.911.12



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Paper Authors

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Steven Myers

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Kathleen Nunnally

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Catherine Blat

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Patricia Tolley

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

Session 2793

Successfully Applying the Supplemental Instruction Model to Sophomore-level Engineering Courses

Catherine Blat, Stephen Myers, Kathleen Nunnally, and Patricia Tolley University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a non-remedial program that utilizes peer-assisted review sessions and targets historically difficult academic courses. Although SI has been used nationally for decades, there is very little literature on its application in engineering courses. There is widespread evidence of its use in non-engineering and pre-engineering courses with varying degrees of success. Previous attempts to apply SI to mathematics courses at UNC Charlotte have proven difficult and were met with limited results. For over the past 15 years, SI has been offered at the university level. Only during the last four years has it become available in the College of Engineering.

Students believe that SI plays a key role in helping them build learning communities and study groups. Multiple assessment processes are balanced between quantitative and qualitative analyses including student, SI leader, and faculty feedback; attendance rates; final course grades; DFW rates (percentage of students receiving a course grade of D or F, or withdrawing from the course); and retention. Assessment results indicate that SI is making a statistically significant positive impact on final course grades and on DFW rates. Initial retention results also indicate that College of Engineering students who attended SI at least five or more times during a semester are more likely to be retained. Qualitative feedback from faculty suggests that SI participation is often the determining factor in whether or not a student repeats a course.

This paper focuses on the development, implementation, assessment, and continuous improvement of the program. Actual assessment results and lessons learned are presented.


The philosophy, format, and objectives of SI are different from tutoring, problem sessions, recitation, and group study in several ways. First, SI focuses on high-risk courses, not on high-risk students. The courses selected for SI are those in which, traditionally, 30% or more of the students receive a final course grade of D or F, or withdraw from the course. Second, SI does not use a one-on-one format, but rather promotes and facilitates collaborative learning. Third, unlike group study, a specially qualified and trained peer leads the SI sessions. Fourth, SI leaders do not work problems for students.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Myers, S., & Nunnally, K., & Blat, C., & Tolley, P. (2001, June), Successfully Applying The Supplemental Instruction Model To Sophomore Level Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9822

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