Frequently Asked Questions
for Supplemental Instruction Leaders

  1. What is a Supplemental Instruction Leader? A Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader is a paid CUNY employee who promotes peer-to-peer learning. First and foremost, a SI Leader is a student advocate working directly with students under the supervision of a Professor (SI Faculty). SI Leaders work both in and out of the classroom and via social media to promote student success, increase attendance, and model what it is to be a great student. By working directly with students, SI Leaders also provide early intervention, time management advice, and assistance on specific assignments.
  1. What does a Supplemental Instruction Leader do? A Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader helps students with further learning and understanding of the course in partnership with the Professor. This includes assisting in the classroom and holding one-on-one and group study sessions outside of the classroom, and through social media. A SI Leader is also a mentor to the students and leads by example.
  1. How can BMCC students find out if their department uses Supplemental Instruction (SI)? Students often have SI Leaders in their courses who they can ask about the SI program. Students can also ask their Professors if there are open places for new SI Leaders in the course in the coming semester. Sometimes a professor asks a student directly if they are interested in becoming a paid SI Leader. But more often than not, SI Faculty select a student who has been a good student in their class to be their SI Leader for the next semester. SI Faculty begin by observing a student’s performance and subject matter expertise during the semester. Many Professors look for students who exhibit leadership, have the ‘helping gene’ and enjoy working with other students or select a SI Leader who has been a model student in their course, who is often a high-performing student, who is easy to get along with, and who Professors trust to work independently, and is also a good communicator. In some cases, Professors choose a SI Leader from a departmental roster of students who have expressed interest in working as a SI Leader. Other SI Faculty look for students who are interested and adept in working with students via social media or who are interested in teaching as a profession, and/or show enthusiasm for innovation in the classroom. SI Faculty also reach out to their chair or to department colleagues or the departmental SI representative to find students who need employment and meet the criteria for SI Leaders, i.e. students who have a Social Security number and are BMCC students or BMCC graduates. Students can also express their interest in becoming a SI Leader by contacting their departmental chair or SI representative or connect with the Learning Resource Center (LRC) representative Nandrani Algu, Tutorial/SI Manager:, LRC, 199 Chambers Street,  Main Building, 5th Floor, Room: S-510. Phone: (212) 220-1383. Two LRC SI Coordinators are also available to assist students: Ruby Chopra,,, and
  1. What qualifications are needed to become a SI Leader? In most cases, a SI Leader has taken the exact same class before, knows the class syllabus, knows how the Professor teaches the course, and is a subject matter expert. SI Leaders also bring their own experience into the classroom for the benefit of students who are taking the same course. Alternatively, SI Leaders are familiar with the course having taken it with another Professor or have a working knowledge of the subject matter and syllabus.
  1. Do SI Faculty require their SI Leaders to have previously taken their course(s)?No, but it is suggested. It is very helpful for SI Leaders to have the advantage of having successfully passed the same course. In this way, SI Leaders not only know the subject matter, but the habits, pace and teaching style of the Professor. However, some Professors choose SI Leaders who have subject matter expertise and who they know, not from having had them in a similar or related course, but who are referred to them by department chairs or colleagues. If a SI Leader has taken the class before, he/she/they know(s) the class syllabus, know(s) how the Professor teaches the course, and is a subject matter expert. SI Leaders also bring their own experience into the classroom for the benefit of students who are taking the same course.
  1. What are some of the benefits of being a SI Leader? In addition to being paid for their work in and out of the classroom, the SI Leader position is seen as a resume builder. SI Leaders learn to prepare content for SI sessions based on lectures and course content, and schedule their own SI sessions independent of classes with their Professor. SI Leaders learn teamwork by concentrating on the power of peer learning from a student’s point of view by encouraging collaborative learning. Not only does a SI Leader add value to student learning, but their own communication, organizational and mentorship skills are enriched through the experience. At the end of their SI Leader duties, students often receive a Letter of Recommendation from their SI Faculty to add to their resume. There is also the  possibility of ongoing employment as a SI Leader.
  1. Are SI Leaders similar to tutors, graduate students and teaching assistants? A SI Leader is a student or graduate in good standing within the BMCC and CUNY communities. But SI Leaders are not tutors, graduate students or teaching assistants. Rather, they are a new hybrid of student advocate, peer-to-peer advisor and subject matter expert, paid to work in and out of the classroom with students one-on-one or in small groups and on social media. While tutors, graduate students and teaching assistants may relecture the Professor’s material, grade assignments, proctor tests and are often seen as superior to students—a kind of  academic elite—SI Leaders attend class with students and concentrate on peer-to-peer learning, encouraging collaborative learning and schedule their own SI sessions independent of the professor’s lectures or class time. A SI Leader is an advocate for the student first and works for the Professor second. A SI Leader works hand-in-hand with the students in the class but does not grade or teach.
  1. What are the formal responsibilities of SI Leaders? Once the semester begins, a SI Leader attends class and then submits a timesheet once a week with the hours they have worked in and out of the classroom with details of the students they met with, including when and where they met. Timesheets are turned into the departmental SI representative or to Nandrani Algu,Tutorial/SI Manager:, LRC, (Learning Resource Center), 199 Chambers Street, Main Building, 5th Floor, Room: S-510. Phone: (212) 220-1383. Two LRC SI Coordinators are also available to assist faculty and students: Ruby Chopra,, and
  1. Can SI Leaders be BMCC graduates? Yes. More often than not, SI Faculty continue to use their SI leaders after they leave BMCC and go on to a four-year institution. Some SI Faculty have used the same SI Leaders for over six years as students progress from BMCC to a four-year school and even graduate school. Some SI Leaders are BMCC graduates who return to work with their former Professors or graduate students who have an interest in the course subject matter.
  1. Is there an age limit for SI Leaders? No. A SI Leader may be a BMCC student or former BMCC student who is attending another educational institution or is seeking employment. SI Leaders are CUNY employees. CUNY is committed to providing an educational and workplace environment free from any form of unlawful discrimination and sexual misconduct. Moreover, CUNY promotes and supports a diverse culture of excellence, mutual respect, inclusion, and professionalism. Please see CUNY’s Policies on Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination and
  1. Is there a dress code for SI Leaders? No, but SI Leaders are CUNY employees and business casual is suggested, as it fosters a continued sense of professionalism in and out of the classroom.
  1. Can SI Faculty use SI Leaders for in-person and online classes and in their synchronous, asynchronous and hybrid classes? At BMCC, Supplemental Instruction has proven to be adaptable for all kinds of teaching and learning experiences—in-person classroom instruction, on Blackboard, and in Zoom classes. Increasingly, SI Leaders work with students via email, on scheduled video calls, in breakout rooms, and by means of a wide variety of social media platforms from group chats to Facebook to WhatsApp. SI remains highly adaptable for a variety of educational formats, such as synchronous teaching in real-time, asynchronous teaching when students can learn on their own schedule within a given time frame, as well as blended learning in the classroom and online. 
  1. How often is a Supplemental Instruction Leader paid? Once a SI Leader is in the payroll system, the SI Leader is paid twice a month for 15 weeks/the entire semester. SI Leaders work between 5 and 8 hours per week.
  1. Does a Supplemental Instruction Leader receive a W-2 Form? Yes, a SI Leader receives a W-2 Form through the BMCC Human Resources Department, 199 Chambers Street, Room S717, New York, NY 10007, phone: (212) 220-8300.
  1. Does a SI Leader earn credits toward their degree or certification? No, SI Leaders do not receive credits toward their course of study but are paid for their work as a SI Leader as a CUNY employee.
  1. Can a Supplemental Instruction Leader be employed for more than one semester? Yes. A SI Leader can be employed for more than one semester by invitation only, as long as it is agreeable with the Professor, the department and School Administration.
  1. How do SI Leaders work with SI Faculty in the classroom? SI Faculty work with SI Leaders each in their own way but some generally accepted ways include the following:
    • A SI Leader is required to be present, active and engaged in the classroom during the hours of the class. 
    • Many SI Faculty require the SI Leader to be present before and after class for some informal one-on-one time with students. 
    • SI Leaders work with students during lecture periods to reinforce the Professor’s lesson plans.
    • SI Leaders meet with students before class.
    • SI Leaders explain concepts based on their experience in the course.
    • SI Leaders chat with students right after class to clarify classroom topics.
    • SI Leaders demonstrate note-taking.
    • SI Leaders model appropriate classroom behavior.
    • SI Leaders participate with students during small group work.
    • SI Leaders arrange to work with students outside of class time in a designated study area, library or on social media (WhatsApp, FaceTime, Google Hangout, group chat, and text).
    • SI Leaders schedule out-of-class time informally on campus at the BMCC cafes or in library rooms or study spaces at Fiterman or in the main building, 199 Chambers Street, which SILs can book. Click on this link:
  1. How do SI Faculty use their SI Leaders outside of the classroom?
    • SI Leaders hold study review sessions before quizzes, tests or exams.
    • SI Leaders meet with students individually, in small groups or teams.
    • SI Leaders are often available to meet informally with students before class, asking how they are doing and if they have had any specific problems with homework assignments.
    • In lab settings, at the discretion of the SI Faculty, SI Leaders visit desks or workstations during the lecture time to assist students with specific problems. In the classroom and on video calls, SI Leaders are also available before and after class and at class break time.
    • Having the SI Leader in class helps foster a sense of trust between students and their SI Leader.
  1. Are SI Faculty present during SI Leader sessions outside of class time? As a rule, SI Faculty do not work with SI Leaders and students outside of class, as this is the time for SI Leaders and students to work together as peers without faculty supervision. Outside of class is a time reserved for SI Leaders and students to work one-on-one, in small study groups and through social media, such as WhatsApp, FaceTime and/or via text.
  1. How do SI Faculty encourage students to attend sessions with their SI Leader?
    • Faculty can work with their SI Leaders to offer quiz or test review sessions in small groups online and in-person.
    • SI Faculty suggest SI Leaders fit into student schedules by working with students on social media (WhatsApp, FaceTime, text, etc.).
    • Set aside a designated study room in the Main Building or Fiterman before and after class and/or at the same time each week where students are likely to find their SI Leaders. Rooms can be reserved by SI Leaders online for study rooms at Fiterman Hall, 245 Greenwich Street, NY NY 10007, and in the library in the main building, 199 Chambers Street NY NY 10007 (
    • Have SI Faculty create a mandatory class-wide low-stakes assignment for students to discuss with their SI Leader.
    • Have SI Leaders select two or three students to meet with informally in a group after class on a weekly basis to review the upcoming assignments.
    • SI Faculty can offer extra credit to students who attend SI sessions.
  1. How do SI Faculty monitor the time of their SI Leader(s)? It is suggested that SI Faculty meet with their SI Leaders before the semester begins to go over the syllabus, lesson plans and schedule. SI Faculty often meet with their SI Leaders weekly before each class to review the lesson plan of the day and meet after class to discuss which students need assistance. SI Faculty usually check in with their SI Leaders on a weekly basis but no formal monitoring is required. However, each SI Leader must turn in their individual hours, details of the students they met with and where they met them, to their departmental SI Representative or to the LRC (Learning Resource Center) on a weekly basis.
  1. When do SI Faculty select their SI Leaders? Professors often ask students after midterms to check their availability and interest in working as a SI Leader for the following semester. As a rule, it is important for students to be selected before they register for the next semester to ensure their availability for the following semester, and to make sure there is time for the student to be enrolled as a SI Leader and a CUNY “new hire” employee, which can sometimes take several months. However, selection of the SI Leader is always at the discretion of the Professor.
  1. How do SI Faculty help students register as SI Leaders? The Departmental Chair and the LRC (Learning Resource Center) personnel are the first steps towards securing formal recognition and payment for a SI Leader. Please contact your departmental SI Representative or Nandrani Algu,Tutorial/SI Manager:, LRC, 199 Chambers Street, Main Building, 5th Floor, Room: S-510. Phone: (212) 220-1383. Two LRC SI Coordinators are also available to assist faculty and students: Ruby Chopra,, and
  1. Is there an orientation session for first-time SI Leaders and their SI Faculty? All prospective SI Leaders are asked to attend an orientation session prior to their first semester working as a SI Leader. Typically, LRC (Learning Resource Center) Orientation sessions are held in January prior to the Spring semester and in June prior to the Fall semester. It is highly recommended that SI Faculty attend orientation sessions with their first-time SI Leaders.
  1. What if SI Leaders and their SI Faculty cannot attend orientation? It is suggested that SI Faculty and SI Leaders attend orientation and training sessions together. If SI Faculty and or the SI Leader cannot attend the orientation, special arrangements can be made to meet with the following members of the LRC (Learning Resource Center): Nandrani Algu, Tutorial/SI Manager:, LRC, 199 Chambers Street, Main Building, 5th Floor, Room: S-510. Phone: (212) 220-1383. Two LRC SI Coordinators are also available to assist faculty and students: Ruby Chopra,, and Denae Sanchez,
  1. Is ongoing training available for the SI Leader throughout the semester? Yes, a SI Leader receives formal orientation along with other SI Leaders before the semester begins and has continuing informal training and mentorship from the Professor of the class throughout the semester.
  1. How does a SI Leader resolve a complaint against them? If a complaint is lodged against a SI Leader, the Professor will be the first one to review the complaint and take the appropriate action.
  1. What does a SI Leader do if they need to suddenly leave the job due to unforeseen circumstances? If a SI Leader needs to suddenly leave their job due to unforeseen circumstances, they should give notice to their SI Professor and to their Departmental SI Coordinator.
  1. If the SI Leader is having issues on the job with their SI Faculty/Professor, whom can they speak with to resolve the matter? If the SI Leader is having issues in the classroom with the Professor, they can speak with their Departmental SI Coordinator about their concerns.
  1. What professional recognition does a SI Leader receive? SI Leaders receive a digital Certificate of Completion from Dean Zummo, BMCC’s Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, for each course and semester in which they participate in the SI program. SI Leaders include these digital certificates in their academic portfolio and they are seen as a resume builder.
  1. Who created Supplemental Instruction? Supplemental instruction was researched and developed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) in the early 70s. Deanna Martin, then a young graduate student in reading education, was hired to work on a small but forward-thinking grant, designed to help reduce attrition among minority professional medical school students. It was Martin who coined the term Supplemental Instruction.
  1. How do SI Faculty and educators view Supplemental Instruction? Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a form of peer-to-peer instruction that facilitates the development of academic skills in the context of a specific course at the post-secondary level (Hurley & Gilbert, 2008); it also facilitates successful course completion. In SI, a model peer, a student or graduate who has previously been successful in the course, structures study sessions that allows students currently taking the course to learn how to study effectively (Wilcox & Jacobs, 2008). With the skills developed, these SI Leaders will build their independence as learners (Burmeister, 2013).
  1. What is the history of Supplemental Instruction at BMCC? Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a model of collaborative learning that has been used at BMCC since 2016. It is based on the original model for SI researched and developed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and certified from the International Center for Supplemental Instruction. At BMCC, SI was originally used for courses that were identified as high risk rather than targeting students who are at risk of not being academically successful at the post-secondary level (Jacobs & Stone, 2008). High-risk courses have historically had at least 30% of students earning a D or F grade, or withdrawing from the course (Jacobs & Stone, 2008). SI study sessions were available to all students in the high-risk course, rather than catering only to identified at-risk students (Jacobs & Stone, 2008). However, in recent years, SI at BMCC has broadened from its use in Pathways courses, such as Mathematics and ESL (English as a Second Language) to a wider variety of courses, such as English, Speech, Teacher Education, Music and Art, CIS (Computer Information Systems), Business, Criminal Justice, and Media Arts and Technology.
  1. How many students at BMCC have used Supplemental instruction? As of Fall 2021, more than 24,000 students have used Supplemental Instruction. Research studies show that students who attend SI sessions earn statistically higher final course grades than those who do not attend SI sessions, and this includes students who are under-prepared when they enter the course.
  1. Is Supplemental Instruction used outside BMCC? Yes. Supplemental Instruction is used throughout the CUNY system in NYC, and at two- and four-year colleges, both public and private, throughout the United States and internationally from the U.K. to Scandinavia to Europe to South Africa. Professors here and abroad share the mission that SI is a program to help students master course content while developing effective learning strategies and critical thinking skills, and strengthens positive study habits.