History of VSI

students reading

In the early 1980s, the staff of the Center of Academic Development developed applications of Supplemental Instruction (SI) to answer the specific problem of medical students who failed the comprehensive examination in the basic sciences that comes at the end of their second year. Later in the decade, when the number of students from all parts of the U.S. seeking admission to the UMKC Board Review program outstripped the available resources, the staff made a video-based program, FIRSTprep, available for adoption in medical schools outside Kansas City. Although the video program was multi-faceted, the central instructional procedure was relatively straightforward. The implementation steps that proved effective in FIRSTprep comprise the central core of VSI:

  1. Preview both the vocabulary which will be used in the lecture and, in rather cursory fashion, the main topics to be covered in the lecture. ("Tell them what you are going to tell them.")
  2. Process the recorded lecture. In doing so, stop when necessary to permit students to clarify something the professor has said or simply to assure that the students are tracking the progress of the presentation. ("Tell them.")
  3. Review the recorded lecture, using any of a variety of well known techniques. ("Tell them what you told them.")

The difference between this approach and those traditionally used in postsecondary education lay in the centrality of students to the process as opposed to the centrality of the material to be learned:

  • Students conduct the preview;
  • Students determine the pace of the lecture;
  • Students assure their own mastery as the lecture progresses;
  • Students select the key points for immediate review;
  • Students identify misconceptions and modify and adapt their conceptions to achieve, eventually, more complete understanding.

In essence, students take responsibility for their own learning. The role of the facilitator is to drag his or her feet, assuring that students understand the material while firmly resisting the pressure from students to give them answers, thus hurrying the process. In the final analysis, facilitators become experts in finessing answers from their groups.

In 1993, using the VSI educational delivery system, dual-credit courses were delivered off-campus through video to a number of rural high schools. These courses, facilitated by high school faculty members, were highly interactive while retaining all of the rigor of the regular campus courses.  Superintendents, principals, and teachers alike enthusiastically supported the continuation and expansion of the VSI delivery system, preferring this medium to live satellite delivery of courses.  Rather than using expensive and inflexible satellite technology, VSI used low cost, low technology, flexible systems to deliver courses to any location desired. 

Other VSI Initiatives

The VSI methodology has been used in a variety of educational settings. This includes:

  • Grade school mathematics, (Math Series, Grades 3-6)
  • Landlords seeking to prevent drug abuse (Land Lord Training Series)
  • Inuit citizen training (training provided by ASM and course development by client
  • Various literacy projects

Currently, Deanna Martin, founder of the SI and VSI Programs and current President of the non-profit Worldwide Education Inc., is implementing the VSI methodology outside the US borders.