Book Reviews

Book by Marion E. Stone, Glen Jacobs
Review by Julie Longmire
Academic Advisor
College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences
University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Most academic advisors have worked with students experiencing trouble in courses with notoriously low pass rates.  Advisors in this situation know that the standard advice and tutoring referrals alone may not help. Supplemental Instruction (SI) is one effective strategy many institutions have implemented to deal with this common problem.  SI “is an academic assistance program that utilizes peer-assisted study sessions.  SI sessions are regularly-scheduled, informal review sessions in which students compare notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, and predict test items.  Students learn how to integrate course content and study skills while working together” (University of Missouri-Kansas, 2006).
Today in American higher education we enroll an increasingly diverse student body. This changing nature of students requires that colleges and universities take a proactive approach to educating diverse learners. SI can help colleges and universities meet student learning outcomes by offering students the opportunity to learn and practice strategies that will teach them higher order thinking skills. SI sessions are designed to “integrate critical thinking and problem solving” into the course content (p. 37).  

Supplemental instruction offers students the opportunity to learn and practice challenging course content, while also helping them develop learning strategies that can be applied to other courses.  SI is not only useful to session participants; it is also a tremendous growth opportunity for the student leaders who facilitate the sessions. Student SI leaders are taught effective learning strategies and leadership skills that will be useful when they enter the workforce.

Supplemental Instruction is a must read for faculty and staff interested in designing more effective learning support activities.  It provides valuable insights into all facets of the SI program, including how to get administration and faculty to buy in to SI, information on training peer leaders and faculty, as well as concrete evidence that SI works. One strength of this book is that it provides readers with case studies that feature colleges and universities where effective Supplemental Instruction programs have been implemented.  These case studies provide readers with the knowledge needed to implement an SI program on their campuses.

Another strength of the book is that it provides readers with a look into how SI has evolved over the past thirty years. One such evolution is that of Video-based Supplemental Instruction (VSI).  The authors explained how VSI can be used effectively to reach a variety of audiences including high school students with no access to dual enrollment courses and students in developing nations.  Both SI and VSI meet learners where they are, whether the participant is an “at-risk” university student struggling in a course or a young student in a small, rural village wanting to learn more about the world.

This book, like Supplemental Instruction itself, can be useful to a wide audience.  Administrators, faculty and staff interested in developing a program to promote student learning will appreciate the specific advice given as well as the anecdotal wisdom of practitioners who have implemented successful programs.  Specifically, this monograph will help advisors understand the importance of Supplemental Instruction and how it can both increase the number of students who successfully complete challenging courses and give students the necessary tools to become effective, life long learners.  

Reference:

University of Missouri-Kansas City. (2006). Overview of Supplemental Instruction. Retrieved December 15, 2006 from http://www.umkc.edu/cad/si/overview.htm.


Supplemental Instruction: New Visions for empowering Student Learning.  (2006). Book by Marion E. Stone, Glen Jacobs (Eds.). Review by Julie Longmire. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 120 pp., $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 0-7879-8680-1
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