Supplemental Instruction

CSME offers Science Supplemental Instruction (SI), a series of one-unit courses supplementing the STEM major gatekeeper courses.  The instructors create learning communities to focus on conceptual understanding and mutual support. Instruction is mainly through hands-on and interactive small-group work. Course size is limited to 20 students.

From 1999-2005, the SI program was supported by NIH grants. The courses showed very strong results, with SI-participating students achieving higher performance than non-participants at a statistically significant level in 11 out of 12 science courses despite having equal or lower SAT scores. In many cases, students from underrepresented minority groups benefited more from SI than their peers. Students who took SI with the first course in a sequence were more likely to take subsequent courses.

In 2009, the SI courses were shut down for lack of funding. In Fall 2010, CSME revived the courses at a lower funding level. An outside evaluator showed that the SI course had “a small, positive impact on ameliorating the effects of lower SAT scores and on keeping Introductory Biology I students in the same majors.” As may be expected, the new SIs show lower effects compared to the better funded earlier efforts, so we continue to seek greater funding.

All Supplemental Instruction courses are listed in the SF State online Class Schedule (new window) with the prefix SCI (not SI). Classes begin during the second week of instruction. We encourage you to contact SI Program Director Jessica Fielder ( with any questions.