Effectiveness of supplemental instruction for developmental level math in a university setting

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Mathematics|Education, Educational Psychology




Supplemental instruction is an academic assistance program, where fellow students (SI leaders) lead study sessions in an informal setting. With the support from the SI leaders, students develop study skills and strategies for succeeding in the course. A comparable, but less expensive, method utilized at a public university in New England had the instructors of MATH099: Elementary Algebra lead supplemental study sessions instead of the students' peers. MATH099 is a preparatory level algebra course equivalent to high school algebra. The study sample consisted of all students enrolled in MATH099 during the fall of 2001, when supplemental instruction was used, and all students enrolled in the same course during the fall of 2002, when instructors led the study sessions. Combined the sample was nearly 1,700 students, with no statistical difference in gender, race, or placement test scores between years. Using multilevel modeling to capture the within class covariance, it was found that students who had study sessions led by instructors had higher final exam scores and better course letter grades then students who experienced typical supplemental instruction. However, the withdrawal rates were similar between students who experienced instructor led tabs with students who had peer-assisted lab sessions. Having instructors lead supplemental lab sessions is more effective than traditional supplemental instruction, where a peer leads the study session. In addition, the cost for having instructors lead the sessions is less than half the cost for implementing supplemental instruction. ^