Hi Jeff,


I introduced it at my last institution.

Like other people, we saw an increase in tutoring for the subject area as people became more aware of our services.  Our initial forays were funded externally by a grant for the Engineering program in one case and with assistance from another College in another.  Once we started picking up the tab, it did impact our budget because we paid about $5/hour more for the SI leaders plus preparation time.  It worked out well for some classes, but we quickly (within a semester) dropped others that weren’t seeing a good SI turnout because it did become about one service vs. the other for us.

Initially it came out of a grant in one case and funding from the College in question in another, but eventually we were required to cover it out of our budget without an increase in said budget.  In actuality, they were cutting our budget around that time.

I’m not sure what you mean by this question.  All of our SI leaders were already experienced tutors with us.  Each of them chose to work in both capacities moving forward.  It was a pain in the neck to update on our scheduling system as it would show the SI leaders as simultaneously available for tutoring until we created separate accounts and hours for each of them.  That part cost us numerous hours of staffing time.

The first effort was prompted by a grant one of our colleges received.  They actually approached us about it.  For future sessions, we worked with the faculty teaching the class to the greatest extent possible.  One lesson we learned is that it’s incredibly important that the announcement introducing the program comes from someone supervising the faculty vs. us.  Someone dropped the ball in that infrastructure at one point, so the first faculty in a program heard about it was from me.  Some of them interpreted it as trying to insert an unwanted TA in their class who didn’t report to them, and things quickly escalated until their supervisor stepped in Monday morning after a long weekend of angry emails and explained that he had initiated the program and how he wanted it to work.  There remained a lot of resistance in that program until we shut it down because of how it was introduced.  With the other programs, which were introduced well by faculty administrators, we saw excellent faculty support.  Engineering remained the best one because they actually paid for a preterm meeting each semester in which the faculty, SI leaders, and our administrators could meet, talk, and ask questions while faculty expressed their concerns about how to optimally integrate it in their classes.

We had used an embedded tutoring model for a summer boot camp successfully.  At the same time that I was reading up on it, my assoc. VP was encouraging us to come up with new ways to address high D/F/W courses.  The College that piloted it with us had just received a grant to cover multiple new strategies towards certain objectives, and an SI variation was one of them, so everything kind of aligned.

Holistically it was a combination of me, someone on the committee who was overseeing the grant, and simultaneously one of the Chemistry faculty.  However, in the last case, it wasn’t SI in the way most of us would consider it as there was a mandatory “SI session” (her phrasing) for her students once a week that she often led and with her TAs running it.  The program did see some good results and I think should be recognized, but it doesn’t fit in with my understanding of the traditional SI model.  The professor in question was using the approach and outcomes as part of her doctoral research for another degree, so I suspect she modified it for what she wanted to prove.  (It worked, though!)

Our bottom line is that SI worked well for us when there was faculty buy in but was a flop when faculty felt pressured into doing it.  They would conveniently “forget” to announce it to their classes, physical ads we asked them to distribute were “lost,” and students we talked with had never heard of it.  Attempts to visit the class were declined as well.  When faculty felt consulted or there was simply a directive from their admins. to try it, we saw some excellent results and grew the relationships and respect between the departments.




Debbie Malewicki, President

Integrity 1st Learning Support Solutions, LLC

Chosen as one of “The Best of New Haven’s 2019 Businesses”

446A Blake Street – Suite 101

New Haven, CT  06515

(203) 800-4100

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From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Rebecca Tedesco
Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2020 4:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Adding SI to an historically tutoring-only program


Hey Jeffrey,


Hi from San Diego!  Hope all's well up in Portland.


In my experience, from the students' perspective, adding SI to your learning assistance program is unlikely to decrease tutoring usage; in fact, a high-quality SI program can increase the likelihood that students will seek tutoring.  At least, this was the case for us at San José State and seems to also be the case at Southwestern College, where I am now working. 


There are some key considerations, however, from the perspective of your tutors and SI leaders and the tutor / SI coordinator's perspective.  These are some quick takes based on what I have observed coordinating the tutoring program in a learning assistance department that also had SI and in my current role as both a writing center tutor and SI leader:


Tutors' / SI Leaders' Perspective

  • Natural Limitations.  Tutoring and SI each have their strengths and limitations.  Most notably, a tutor working with students in individual sessions cannot help students make friends (with each other) or form support groups the way an SI leader can in weekly sessions. (The ability of SI leaders to help students form social groups that will enable the students to persist and pass their historically difficult courses is the core mission of the SI model.)  On the other hand, an SI leader is dependent on the students helping one another in a group setting, and occasionally interjecting their own advice, rather than being able to devote sustained attention to a single student for a substantial period of time the way that I tutor can.

In other words, when I am working as an SI leader, I have different tools that I can and can't use to assist students compared to when I am working as a tutor.  (This can be challenging to accept, because I know that I have the skill set to help the student, but, due to format and time constraints, I might not be able to use the tool in that moment.) 


Tutor / SI Coordinators' Perspective

  • Hiring.  You're increasing the number and variety of positions you are hiring for and this can impact your hiring pool (especially if it is small) and your interview process.   
  • Training.  While there is some overlap, tutor training and SI training needs are distinct, so you are doubling your training demands as well.
  • Challenges of Having Staff in Dual Roles.  This is where it gets the stickiest.  I highly recommend, if possible, not to hire current students as both peer tutors and SI leaders.  If you must do this, it is vital to spend a substantial amount of time in training distinguishing between the roles and simulating scenarios peer educators will encounter in which the lines might be blurred.  It is hard to break the dependency cycle, as the SI literature talks about so much, if students see one person as fulfilling all of their academic support needs.
  • Assessment.  The format of SI makes for clean assessment data; you have a built-in intervention group (sections of a course with SI) and control group (sections without), making for the types of data administrators love to see.  (This is, indeed, another pillar of SI and a big reason for its growth as a learning assistance model since Deanna Martin created it in 1973.)  Next to this shiny, easy-to-understand data, your tutoring program data can look inexact and messy (due to the nature of tutoring not being as tidy); so, it is important to consider how you will make your tutoring program assessment data more user-friendly in comparison to your SI data.


There is a lot more I could say about how best to marry tutoring and SI, including the third and distinct option of embedded tutoring--which is not the same as SI!  For example, what I've written above doesn't take into account faculty, staff, and administrators' perspectives, which are also vital to consider before adding an SI program to your learning assistance offerings.  I will leave it here for now, however, for the sake of time.  I am happy to keep the conversation going here or off-list. 


Rebecca Tedesco
Southwestern College
CRLA Level 3 Master Tutor
Certified Learning Center Professional - Level 2


On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 11:30 AM White, Jeffrey <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hello colleagues,

We are considering adding supplemental instruction (SI) at my institution to address DFW rates and to support nursing students who need to maintain 3.0 GPAs. We’ve only offered tutoring, and I’d like to hear from those of you who have added SI to a peer learning assistance program that has traditionally been focused on tutoring.

  • How did SI impact the utilization of tutors in the SI subject areas? How did it impact your tutor budget?
  • Did SI leader labor come out of your own budget or other department or program budgets?
  • How did SI impact your non-tutor staffing?
  • What collaborative partnerships did you develop to be able to introduce SI?
  • What led the addition of SI?
  • Who championed the introduction of SI on your campus?

Please feel free to respond to me directly at [log in to unmask].

All the best,


Jeffrey White, M.A., M.S.

Learning Commons Administrator, Shepard Academic Resource Center 

Instructor of German, International Languages and Cultures

President, Northwest College Reading and Learning Association

Buckley Center 163, MSC 184


University of Portland

5000 N. Willamette Blvd.

Portland, Oregon 97203


T: 503.943.7141  E: [log in to unmask]


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