Supplemental Instruction pilot will expand in fall 2022 to provide more support for students in challenging courses


The Center for Student Success at SUNY New Paltz will partner with academic departments this fall to extend support to more students by expanding the Supplemental Instruction (SI) pilot.

This cross-divisional partnership promotes learning, academic engagement and persistence in historically challenging courses by building upon the Center for Student Success’s existing infrastructure and departmental relationships.

“Since its inception in 2016, New Paltz’s Center for Student Success has prioritized peer-based academic support in historically challenging courses,” said Dante Cantú, executive director of academic advising & student success. “This is the key aspect of our strategy for making the biggest impact in support of our students’ learning and success. SI is evidence-based and consistent with our approach, builds upon what’s already working well, and aligns with the College’s educational mission and institutional priorities.”

After a successful pilot in the Genetics (BIO 320) course, this fall the SI program will expand to include more sections in biology (BIO 201, 320), computer science (CPS 210, 310), mathematics (MAT 181, 251) and psychology (PSY 201).

The expanded program will undergo rigorous evaluation over the course of the two-year pilot to assess its efficacy and impact.


What is SI?

Supplemental Instruction or SI is a group tutoring program that emphasizes independent learning, the Socratic method, study skills and working as a team to solve problems. For each course, an SI Leader, who has already taken the course as a student, works closely with both the instructor and Center for Student Success staff to plan for and facilitate group sessions for students enrolled in the course.

Supplemental Instruction originated at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in 1973. Read more here about their program.


How does SI work at SUNY New Paltz?

The development of the Supplemental Instruction program at New Paltz has been a true faculty-staff collaboration. The team at the Center for Student Success initially worked with Associate Professors Jeffrey Reinking and Jennifer Waldo to pilot SI in their Genetics (BIO 320) during fall 2019.

“Dr. Waldo and Dr. Reinking are model faculty partners for us, and the student outcomes from that pre-pandemic effort were quite promising,” Cantú said. “Since then, we’ve come to recognize that the pandemic has been a disruptor to the learning experience of many of our incoming students. We are so appreciative of this group of instructors for their willingness to partner with us this fall. We’re equally appreciative of both College and academic leadership for their collective support as we continue to use data, evidence-based practices, and promising new approaches to better support our students’ learning needs and their goals for degree attainment.”

A critical asset to the pilot’s prospects for success will be Kristen Fanfarelli, coordinator in the Center for Student Success. Fanfarelli joined the New Paltz community in 2021 and brings deep expertise, having supported and led SI programs at multiple institutions including the University of Central Florida for almost 10 years. Most recently, as Director of Academic Achievement at Union College, Fanfarelli expanded Union’s SI Program and improved Union’s retention metrics through SI and other programs such as peer mentoring and tutoring.


About the Center for Student Success

The growing SI program at the Center for Student Success adds to a slate of offerings that are proven to support positive outcomes for New Paltz students. A recent impact finding by our Office of Institutional Research indicated that students who avail themselves of the Center’s services are nearly twice as likely to be retained as those who do not.

The Center for Student Success is CRLA-certified and presents a statewide model for integrated student advising and academic support. Click here to learn more about the Center and its peer-to-peer services.