Category: Regular & Substantive Interaction

RSI References and Resources

RSI References and Resources

 


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What’s new?!

What’s new?!

The OSCQR rubric and supporting documentation have been updated to specifically identify standards that support RSI. This updated version is referred to as OSCQR 4.0.

  1. Specific OSCQR standards target online course design elements to directly address and support RSI.
    • OSCQR standards 2, 3, 29, 38, 39, 41, 43,  specifically address RSI in the standard itself.
  2. Specific OSCQR standards have been identified as standards that can support RSI compliance in some way.
    • OSCQR Standards 1, 6, 9, 10, 19, 30, 31, 40, 44-47, are RSI-related.

These RSI OSCQR standards have been enhanced to include:

  • An RSI section on each respective OSCQR standard webpage to clearly explain how the standard addresses RSI
  • An updated description of the standard and the examples augmented with additional detail and information to support an understanding and ideas for how to ensure that the online course meets the standard and RSI requirements.

OSCQR standards that support RSI in any way are identified:

  • On the OSCQR website for each respective standard by the RSI dashboard icon
  • On the .pdf and interactive rubrics by mini rsi dashboard

 


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How OSCQR supports RSI

How OSCQR supports RSI

Best practices in high quality online courses assume regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between the online instructors and learners that is articulated in both the design and delivery of the course. OSCQR provides standards that can be used to guide and improve the instructional design of an online course, including explanations of  instructor intentions and expectations for aspects of the delivery of the online course.

RSI is still in the process of being understood, interpreted, and implemented. One can take a very strict /narrow interpretation, and the argument can be made that there are related practices that are more loosely supportive of RSI and good, general overall effective online practices.

RSI-related OSCQR Standards

OSCQR is a tool that looks ONLY at the instructional design of a course NOT the delivery, and includes effective practices beyond RSI. So, RSI has to be visible in the online course design of content, instructions, stated expectations, and dedicated spaces/areas/forums within the course, to apply/test against OSCQR standards.

OSCQR can be leveraged by faculty, instructional designers, departments, and institutions to assist in planning, designing, improving, documenting, and implementing online courses/programs that are in compliance with RSI regulations. However, there are multiple interconnected factors and activities that must be in place to support RSI. Faculty training, awareness, experience, skill, engagement, and delivery are essential additional aspects that will impact the success of any RSI/online course quality initiative, as are institutional/departmental policy, approaches, resources, support, and monitoring. To that end:

  1. OSCQR standards serve as guidelines and effective practices in new online course development and online course review of existing online courses to guide online course design, refresh, and online faculty development activities to support RSI compliance.
  2. OSCQR standards can be used by online faculty and instructional designers in faculty self-assessments, faculty training activities, resource materials, course reviews reviews, as recommendations and standards to support and document how the online course meets the RSI requirements.

Over all, it is important to keep in mind that the main purpose of the RSI regulation is to differentiate between distance and correspondence courses for financial aid purposes. Even without any changes to OSCQR, a SUNY course with a good online instructional designer and conscientious online instructor would be able to document and demonstrate RSI compliance.

By updating OSCQR with the RSI lens, we are just trying to make that a little clearer and easier.


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RSI Standards

RSI Standards

RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR standards 2, 3, 29, 38, 39, 41, 43, specifically address Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI) standards.

2. Course provides an overall orientation or overview, as well as module-level overviews to make course content, activities, assignments, due dates, interactions, and assessments, predictable and easy to navigate/find.

3. Course includes a course information area and syllabus that make course expectations clear and findable.

29. Course offers access to a variety of engaging resources to present content, support learning and collaboration, and facilitate regular and substantive interaction with the instructor.

38. Regular and substantive instructor-to-student expectations, and predictable/scheduled interactions and feedback. are present, appropriate for the course length and structure, and are easy to find.

39. Expectations for all course interactions (instructor to student, student to student, student to instructor) are clearly stated and modeled in all course interaction/communication channels.

41. Course provides activities intended to build a sense of class community, support open communication, promote regular and substantive interaction, and establish trust (e.g., ice-breaking activities, Course Bulletin Board, planned Office Hours, and dedicated discussion forums).

43. Course provides learners with opportunities in course interactions to share resources and inject knowledge from diverse sources of information with guidance and/or standards from the instructor.


OSCQR Standards 1, 6, 9, 10, 19, 30, 31, 40, 44-47, can be leveraged to support and articulate RSI.

1. Course includes Welcome and Getting Started content.

6. Course provides access to learner success resources (technical help, orientation, tutoring).

9. Course objectives/outcomes are clearly defined, measurable, and aligned to learning activities and assessments.

10. Course provides contact information for instructor, department, and program.

19. Instructions are provided and well written.

30. Course provides activities for learners to develop higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.

31. Course provides activities that emulate real world applications of the discipline, such as experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities.

40. Learners have an opportunity to get to know the instructor.

44. Course grading policies, including consequences of late submissions, are clearly stated in the Course Information/ Syllabus materials.

45. Course includes frequent, appropriate, and authentic methods to assess the learners’ mastery of content.

46. Criteria for the assessment of a graded assignment are clearly articulated (rubrics, exemplary work).

47. Course provides opportunities for learners to review their performance and assess their own learning throughout the course (via pre-tests, self-tests with feedback, reflective assignments, peer assessment, etc.).

 


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Regular & Substantive Interaction

Regular & Substantive Interaction

New federal US Department of Education (DoE) regulatory definitions of distance education require that institutions ensure regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between a student and an instructor(s).*

RSI Dashboard illustration
RSI Dashboard Illustration**

RSI compliance is the legal federal requirement that distinguishes the status of courses between distance education and correspondence courses. Correspondence courses are not eligible for financial aid. Institutions risk losing access to student financial aid if the institution is audited by the US Department of Education’s (DoE) Office of Inspector General, or as part of a periodic Departmental financial aid program review, and found to be out of compliance. Institutions may be required to repay financial aid associated with the correspondence courses and students. Regulations related to RSI have not been waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compliance with the US DoE regulations

New Regulations for Distance Education and Innovation (go into effect July 1, 2021)***

Regulations

Current

As of July 1st, 2021

Interaction Only initiated by the instructor Mostly instructor initiated, some leeway
Instructor Meets accreditation standards Explicit reliance on accreditor approval
Substantive
Of an academic nature Has a list of activities (instruction, assessment, tutoring, answering questions)
Regular Regular and somewhat substantive Predictable and scheduled and tracking and intervention

Definitions**

An instructor is an individual responsible for delivering course content and who meets the qualifications for instruction established by an institution’s accrediting agency. Eligible programs can be taught by “the instructor or instructors.

A distance education course is one in which instruction is delivered by one or more types of technology, including the internet, various wired and wireless media, or audio conference to students who are separated from the instructor(s). These technologies “support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor or instructors, either synchronously or asynchronously.

Predictable and Scheduled Interaction: Regular interaction requires an institution to ensure, prior to the student’s completion of a course or competency, that there is the opportunity for substantive interactions with the student on a predictable and scheduled basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency.

The institution also is responsible for monitoring the student’s academic engagement and success and ensuring that an instructor is responsible for promptly and proactively engaging in substantive interaction with the student when needed on the basis of such monitoring, or upon request by the student.

Academic engagement requires  active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student’s course of study as defined by the institution consistent with any requirements imposed by its state approval or accrediting agency. Academic engagement can include such activities as attending a class where the students and instructor can interact, turning in an academic assignment or taking a test, participating in an interactive computer-assisted instruction, participating in an institutional-directed group activity or online discussion, or interacting with the instructor regarding academic matters.

An emphasis on regular and substantive interaction is entirely consistent with well-documented research-based effective practices in online course design and delivery. In online teaching and learning environments of any kind, (asynchronous, synchronous, blended/hybrid), regular and substantive interactions must:

  • Be with an instructor as defined by the institution’s accreditor.
  • Be initiated by the instructor.
  • Be scheduled and predictable.
  • Be academic in nature and relevant to the course.
  • Substantive interaction assumes direct interaction between the learner and the instructor and requires direct instruction from the instructor including:
    • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework.
    • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course.
    • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency.
    • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.

 


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Citations & Attributions:

*Regular and Substantive Interaction documentation taken/adapted from the WCET Policy Playbook
**The RSI graphic illustration and some content has been adapted and is used with the permission of the SUNY Online Team.
***Retrieved from Regular and Substantive Interaction: Regulatory & Pedagogical Implications presentation by WCET 


U.S. Regulations for Online Classes  & here
OSCQR – Standard #47RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #47RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides opportunities for learners to review their performance and assess their own learning throughout the course (via pre-tests, self-tests with feedback, reflective assignments, peer assessment, etc.).

Review These Explanations

Pre-tests allow a learner to better understand what they already know and where they have more to learn. It provides information on prior knowledge and gaps in knowledge or understanding that can help the learner more effectively and efficiently focus their learning effort.

Self-assessment involves the reviewing one’s own work, determining what is good, and detailing what needs improvement. It is a multi-faceted method of determining learner mastery, by asking learners to explore their own work, and determine a level of performance or mastery.

Self-assessment and reflective assignments play a role in learner self-efficacy and self-regulation, fosters learners’ abilities to construct meaning, and promotes metacognition. By asking learners to check their skill mastery levels, or reflect on their own work and learning, they learn to examine their own reasoning and decision making process, and understand better what helps or hinders their learning (Cukusic et al, 2014).

Peer-assessment give learners the opportunity to look at the work of others, and apply evaluation criteria to it. This not only provides feedback to the learner who is being peer-assessed, but provides the learner doing the assessing with the opportunity to understand and apply evaluation criteria on work that is not their own. This affords the experience of understanding the application of assignment evaluation criteria in an objective context that can they can then apply to their own work.

References:

Cukusic, M., Garaca, Z., & Jadric, M. (2014). Online self-assessment and students’ success in higher education institutions. Computers & Education, 72, 100-109.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard can support regular and substantive interaction by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation and self assessment, and details on how course assignments will be evaluated, and how feedback will be provided. In online courses, pre-tests, self-assessments, reflective assignments, and peer-assessments provide learners with opportunities to check to see how they are progressing, and can offer learners the opportunity to ask for help, clarification, or review or explore additional course materials necessary to master course concepts, or skills. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about their understanding of course materials and concepts, and about course assessments, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated discussion in groups, or in private Office Hours with individuals, to discuss course content, activities, assignment feedback, provide help, answer questions, and/or get guidance and clarification demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Leverage the features and functionality in LMS testing tools to incorporate rich incorrect answer feedback in pre-tests, self-tests and tests,  enhances the learners ability and opportunity to self-correct, and be directed to look further into specific course content, materials, to clarify understanding.
  • Have learners develop a Personal Goals (or Learning Contract) statement for the course, and reflect on how they are meeting those goals at midterm and end of course.
  • Include a non-graded Test Your Knowledge quiz at the beginning of each module that learners can use to assess their prior knowledge to help guide and focus their learning efforts.
  • Include a non-graded Test Your Knowledge quiz at the end of each module that learners need to score a specific grade on (80% or higher) before they can move on.
  • Provide clear guidance on what learners should provide in any reflective exercise, including writing style samples, questions/prompts to consider in their reflections, and objectives that they should be taking into consideration.
    • For example, a Metacognitive Journaling activity can ask students to reflect on what is helping or hindering their learning, what they are learning and how they know they have learned. Coupled with instructor feedback or self assessment and/or peer review can help learners better understand their own learning and progress in the course. This can support learner sense of self-efficacy and scaffold learner self-regulation.
    • Online journals or blogs can be incorporated into online course activities for learners to post reflections on their learning within each module.
  • Ask learners to rate their own participation in the discussion forum, considering questions related to what they contributed, as well as what they chose not to contribute.
  • Explore ePortfolio options. If available, use ePortfolio tools, and have learners post all course work and related reflections there, so they will have access to it beyond the end of the term/course/program.

Examples

  • Scenario-based discussion of course rubrics – students are given a scenario (e.g., Jane participated in the discussion by submitting an initial post, but nothing more) and then asked to assess the grade they would give based on a course rubric. Students discuss together. Instructor provides feedback in the discussion, or summarizes the activity in an announcement after the discussion closes.
    • Example: Instructor directs class discussion around the following scenarios to provide an opportunity for learners to practice using the discussion rubric

In this assignment, you will be presented with several scenarios that you are likely to encounter in this course, and I ask you to “grade” them. Use the discussion and assignment evaluation rubric provided to determine the points that would be awarded for each scenario. Post the grades you would award for each scenario as a reply. The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience with applying the discussion rubric and understanding the criteria, so you will better understand what is expected of you in our online course discussions. If you have any questions about this assignment, please post them in the Ask a Question forum associated with this module. You must complete this activity, before can advance to the next course module. I will provide you with individual and group feedback on this assignment by the end of the week. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this assignment, the feedback you receive, of your understanding of how you will be evaluated in this course, please come to our scheduled Office Hour.

  • Scenario 1: In a discussion, student A submits one discussion post. The post was submitted on time, it addresses all the questions asked in the discussion instructions. The post is approximately 500 words long and is pretty well developed. There are some minor APA offenses. How many points will student A earn for this discussion submission? Why?
  • Scenario 2: Student B is very active in the discussion and posts several posts. The student’s first post answers three out of four questions posed in the discussion instructions. The first post is approximately 350 words long. A couple of other posts are about 500 words long. The student’s arguments are well developed, but the student does not cite any reading materials. How many points will student B earn for these posts? Why?
  • Scenario 3: Student C submitted a brilliant assignment that answers all the questions posed in the instructions and is approximately 450 words long. The submission came 3 days after the deadline and the student had not communicated this with the instructor. The assignment also does not cite any sources. How many points will student C earn for this submission? Why?

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to incorporating self-assessments in support of learner success in online courses.

Use Self Tests to Guide and Motivate Students’ Learning
Self‐assessment can play a central role in learning, revisions and review (Andreade & Du 2007; Weimer, 2009). The self‐assessment process involves a complex process of internalization and self‐regulation, and with implications for research and practice. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Boud, D., Lawson, R., and Thompson, D. “Does Student Engagement in Self-Assessment Calibrate Their Judgement Over Time?” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 2013, 38 (3), 941-956.
Hwang, W., Hsu, J., Shadiev, R. r., Chang, C., & Huang, Y. (2015). Employing self-assessment, journaling, and peer sharing to enhance learning from an online course. Journal Of Computing In Higher Education, 27(2), 114-133.
Falchikov, N., and Boud, D. “Student Self-Assessment in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis.” Review of Educational Research, 1989, 59 (4), 395-430.
Raymond, A. a., Jacob, E. e., Jacob, D. D., & Lyons, J. j. (2016). Peer learning a pedagogical approach to enhance online learning: A qualitative exploration. Nurse Education Today, 44165-169.
Zimmerman, B. J. 1989. “Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview.” Theory into Practice.
Frank, T., & Scharff, L. F.V., Learning contracts in undergraduate courses: Impacts on student behaviors and academic performance. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 13, No. 4, October 2013, pp. 36–53.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #46RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #46RSI Dashboard illustration

Criteria for the assessment of a graded assignment are clearly articulated (rubrics, exemplary work).

Review These Explanations

Rubrics are recommended as a best practice for communicating criteria and achievement levels for assignments in online courses. Elikai & Schuhmann (2010) found that grading policies and associated rubrics motivated learning by associating levels of mastery and performance with a specific grade, and guiding achievement progress.

According to Worlf & Goodwin (2007), rubrics:

  • Make learning targets clearer;
  • Guide the design and delivery of instruction;
  • Normalize the assessment process; and
  • Give learners self- and peer-assessment guidelines.

Guidelines or rubrics for the assessment of graded work should include performance criteria, setting desired performance/proficiency levels for learners, and creating performance descriptions. This includes providing details for what constitutes the continuum of accomplishment, from unsatisfactory through to exemplary, and includes grades associated with each level along the continuum. Criteria for grading schemes (points and percentages) and ranges should be clear (what gets and A, B, and so on), and tie directly to the goals and objectives of the assigned work that is to be evaluated.

Showcasing exemplary work provides learners with a clear example of what outcomes the assignment demands, and what mastery levels need to be reached. Before posting exemplary work, be sure to get permission from the learner whose work you would like to showcase.

References:

Elikai, F., & Schuhmann, P. W. (2010). An examination of the impact of grading policies on students’ achievement. Issues in Accounting Education, 25 (4), 677-693.

Wolf, K. K., & Goodwin, L. L. (2007). Evaluating and Enhancing Outcomes Assessment Quality in Higher Education Programs. Metropolitan Universities, 18(2), 42-56.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

This standard can support regular and substantive interaction in the online course design by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation, and self assessment, as well as details on how feedback will be provided, when it can be expected, and how course work will be work evaluated. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course assignments, activities, and the related grading criteria and expectations, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated discussion in groups, or in private Office Hours with individuals, to discuss course content, activities, assignment feedback, provide help, answer questions, and/or get clarification demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions/Resources

Rubrics/Tools:

Examples

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to providing clear rubrics for learners in support of learner success in online courses.

Use Rubrics to Evaluate Students’ Online Discussions
While faculty might hope that students can “just discuss” a topic online with little or no support, Beckett, Amaro‐Jiménez, and Beckett (2010) found that “even doctoral students may need explicit grading instructions, and therefore provide rubrics and sample responses while not stifling creativity” (p. 331). Rubrics provide clear expectations for students regarding how an assignment, that can otherwise be subjective, will be graded. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Andrade, H. 2000. Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership 57, no. 5: 13-18.
Arter, J., and J. Chappuis. 2007. Creating and recognizing quality rubrics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
Reddy, Y., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4).
Stiggins, R.J. 2001. Student-involved classroom assessment. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #45RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #45RSI Dashboard illustration

Course includes frequent, appropriate, and authentic methods to assess the learners’ mastery of content.

Review These Explanations

Consistent and regular assessments help learners demonstrate their progress and deficiencies. As learners move through an online course, they should encounter regular assignments, activities, and interactions designed to assess how well they have mastered the learning content, and how close they are to meeting program, course, or module learning objectives.

They key to establishing an appropriate assessment strategy is first making sure that established goals are measurable, and then mapping activities back to those goals to see which best lend themselves to conveying learner mastery. It comes down to one simple question – how will you know that learning has taken place?

According to Palloff and Pratt (2013), “A learner-centered assessment is an assessment that links what the student is learning in the course to the assessment process”. Multiple choice tests and quizzes may be easy to grade, but writing assignments, collaborative exercises, case studies, and interactive discussions provide a more authentic assessment of learner mastery by requiring reflection, synthesis, and the creation of new knowledge.

Learners can become lost in online courses that fail to measure mastery on a consistent or regular basis, as they have little to motivate their participation. Mastering competencies on a regular basis within an online course helps learners succeed by developing competence, understanding, and comprehension, which leads to the ability to demonstrate competence and elicit feedback (Hulleman et al., 2010).

References:

Hulleman, C., Schrager, S., Bodmann, S., & Harackiewicz, J. (2010). A meta-analytic review of achievement goal measures: Different labels for the same constructs or different constructs with similar labels? Psychological Bulletin, 136(3), 422.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2013). Lessons from the virtual classroom: the realities of online teaching. Second edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard can support regular and substantive interaction by including a variety of ways to assess learning, and by ensuring that learners receive timely feedback on their work and course progress, and scheduled opportunities to review or discuss their work with the instructor. Authentic online assessment is an essential part of an effective high-quality online learning experience. Instructors can design online learning assessments and evaluations of student learning/mastery by considering approaches that are more effective and appropriate in online learning environments. With the understanding that some online assessments can be largely “take home,” open book, and potentially collaborative in nature, instead of relying on 1 or 2 high stakes multiple-choice-type exams, alternative methods can be leveraged to help learners make their thinking, understanding, and learning visible to the instructor, and others in the course for assessment, feedback, and guidance. Effective practices online include opportunities for more frequent self-assessments, peer evaluation, and formative assessments. Some suggestions include:

  • Place a higher value on online course interactions and discussions.
  • Provide learners with choices in how they demonstrate their learning/mastery.
  • Provide opportunities for learners to make their thinking and learning visible to you in ways that demonstrate how they can apply their learning and understanding. Instructors can establish this in the design of the course by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation and self assessment, and details on how they will provide feedback, and evaluate work.
  • Focus on the importance of timeliness, interaction, and feedback from the instructor.

Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about their understanding of course materials and concepts, and about course assessments, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated discussion in groups, or in private Office Hours with individuals, to discuss course content, activities, assignment feedback, provide help, answer questions, and/or get clarification demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Break complex projects/assignments down into smaller components and provide feedback at each step.
  • Use rubrics to articulate and provide detailed expectations for assignments and student performance.
  • Consider using self-assessment quizzes formatively to help learners check their own understanding.
  • Incorporate self- and peer-assessments to promote student teaching presence and community, deepen their understanding of your rubrics, and reduce your workload.
  • To maximize your time and efficiency, consider where you may have opportunities to provide feedback to the entire class– be strategic in where you spend your time producing individual feedback. If you find yourself writing the same/similar feedback on a particular assessment/assignment, consider group feedback.
  • Review textbook companion materials for quizzes and activities that can be integrated into the LMS.
  • Learn to use the grade book, grading, and rubric features within the LMS to guide the development of your assessments, and to assist you to provide rich feedback.
  • Meet with a curriculum developer within your discipline to ensure your course learning objectives align well with your assessments, content and activities.
  • Explore tools that enable learners to interact with course videos, such as PlayPosit, Panopto, etc.
  • Prepare a roadmap of assignments and assessments to visualize the balance of work that learners will be taking on throughout the term.
  • Be explicit in instructions and guidelines about each course activity and its assessment aligns with specific course learning objectives.

Examples

Assessing Asynchronous Interaction

Supporting Academic Honesty

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explores methods and approaches to creating assignments and assessments that enable instructors to assess learner mastery of course materials and concepts in online courses.

Individualizing Assignments in an Online Course
Individualizing assignments in an online course promotes student and instructor interest, challenges students to strengthen their research skills, and prevents students from paraphrasing other students’ work and presenting it as their own. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

As online education moves into the mainstream of the higher education ecosystem, one question still persists: “How do I know what my online students have learned?” There are no easy answers, just as there aren’t in face-to-face courses, but with a little creativity and flexibility, you soon discover that the online learning environment opens up a host of new educational assessment possibilities.
Ng, C. (2015). Learners’ Goal Profiles and their Learning Patterns over an Academic Year. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 16(3), 86-109.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #44RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #44RSI Dashboard illustration

Course grading policies, including consequences of late submissions, are clearly stated in the Course Information/ Syllabus materials.

Review These Explanations

Learners need to know how their work will be assessed in a clear and transparent manner. Grading policies can guide learner progress, and promote fair and objective review and assessment of all graded work. Research shows that grading policies directly impact learner motivation. Elikai & Schuhmann (2010) found that strict grading policies motivated learner learning by associating levels of mastery and performance with a specific grade, and guiding achievement progress. Having a clear understanding on how one will be assessed and evaluated also scaffolds online learner self-regulation.

All activities, assignments, and graded activities should have clear goals and criteria for assessment within their descriptions. Linking back to grading policies from each graded activity will provide more opportunities for learners to understand what is expected from them, and the associated guidelines, or rubrics can help guide their progress through the assignment or graded activity.

Including clear course grading policies in both the Course Information/Syllabus materials will also mitigate issues related to and learner questions, concerns, or challenges regarding grades received.

References:

Elikai, F., & Schuhmann, P. W. (2010). An examination of the impact of grading policies on students’ achievement. Issues in Accounting Education, 25 (4), 677-693.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses can support regular and substantive interaction by providing explicit instructions and expectations, grading schemes, rubrics, models/examples, and details on how they will evaluate work, provide feedback, and any consequences for not meeting course requirements/ expectations clearly in the course information area or syllabus. The opportunity for learners to discuss, ask questions, or how learners can appeal, make up work/missed classes, or co-create any course expectations is visible in the design of the course.Course communication plans for regular, predictable, and substantive instructor-to-learner interaction, and clearly stated expectations for timely and regular feedback from the instructor are provided. Course expectations for all assignments, activities, assessments/evaluations, and their associated grading policies, including instructor and learner roles, communications, interaction, collaboration, criteria and any consequences/penalties for not meeting stated requirements, need to be explicit, clear, and easy to find. The Course Information/Syllabus materials and course assignment instructions provide details such as purpose, description, learning outcomes, methods and criteria for evaluation, and any other requirements. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course grading policies and consequences for not meeting expectations, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Course grading policies and guidelines, including performance expectations, scheduled communications for feedback, expectations regarding timeliness of feedback and returned work/grades, examples/models, grading schemes, extra credit, and missed deadlines, late submissions, missed/incomplete work and the consequences, are clearly articulated in the Course Information/Syllabus materials.
  • Establish criteria that ties back to program, course, and module objectives. Consider characteristics of work such as clarity, precision, spelling, grammar, creativity, critical inquiry, demonstrable skills, etc.
  • Keep things simple. If an assignment or graded activity can be measured by pass/fail, consider using a simplified grading scale.
  • Set strict re-grading rules and stick to them. Including a clear policy on changing grades, or disputes will mitigate learner grade inquiries.
  • The importance of meeting deadlines, on-time and complete submissions of course work, is emphasized in the grading policies.
  • Create a handbook of grading policies and rubrics that learners can download and keep on hand while they are working on assignments/projects.
  • If you set up peer-reviewed graded work, be sure to provide establish a grading system and/or rubric specifically for the learners, and ask for feedback on how well they think the system and/or rubric is working.
    • For group projects, include a team reporting tool with a grading rubric for learners to provide feedback on how other learners fulfilled their roles on the team.
  • Explicitly state in the Course Expectations/Evaluation materials that a learner can not not choose to not engage or complete (i.e., fail) any one aspect, or component of the course, and still pass the course.
  • Classroom Management for Online Courses.

Examples

Supporting Academic Honesty

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to providing clear grading guidelines and rubrics for learners in support of learner success in online courses.

Create a Course Contract Assignment to Help Students Learn about Course Policies
It is very important to design an online course in a way that supports students to get started on the right foot (Chico, 2009). When a student starts an online course, they read the essential course information (syllabus, course expectations, instructor introduction) and learn about the course policies and expectations. Otherwise, miscommunications can happen due to a lack of understanding of the essential course information. (Read more …)
Use Rubrics to Evaluate Students’ Online Discussions
While faculty might hope that students can “just discuss” a topic online with little or no support, Beckett, Amaro‐Jiménez, and Beckett (2010) found that “even doctoral students may need explicit grading instructions, and therefore provide rubrics and sample responses while not stifling creativity” (p. 331). Rubrics provide clear expectations for students regarding how an assignment, that can otherwise be subjective, will be graded. (Read more …)
Use Syllabus Quiz to Familiarize Students with Course Policies and Expectations
In the online environment, it is important to provide clear expectations, policies, and grading expectations and to ensure that students are familiar with these policies and expectations (California State University, Chico, 2014). You may have a very detailed syllabus. However, students may not carefully read all of these details. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Karimbux, N. Y. (2013). Knowing Where We’re Going in Assessment. Journal of Dental Education, 77(12), 1555.
Yalcin, A., & Kaw, A. (2011). Do Homework Grading Policies Affect Student Learning? International Journal of Engineering Education, 27(6), 1333-1342.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #43RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #43RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides learners with opportunities in course interactions to share resources and inject knowledge from diverse sources of information with guidance and/or standards from the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Teaching presence is the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2000).

Inviting learners to reach out beyond a textbook or assigned readings empowers them to understand a wider scope of research and perspectives. When exposed to different information sources, learners have the opportunity to discern the integrity of those sources and (possibly) share those perceptions with each other.

By inviting learners to share resources and add to bring in outside knowledge involves higher order thinking skills, and requires analysis, reflection, and synthesis. Gioia (1987) recommends encouraging learners to become active participants in the classroom by:

  • Providing recapitulations and summaries;
  • Make observations that integrate concepts and discussions;
  • Citing relevant personal examples;
  • Asking key questions that lead to revealing discussions;
  • Engaging in devil’s advocacy; and
  • Disagreeing with the instructor in ways that promote further exploration of the issue.

These approaches, although originally posited for the traditional classroom, translate well into the online space.

Gioia (1987) also talks about giving learners time to think. In the online space, this translates into proving ample opportunities for reflection and guidance on how to bring that reflection back into online discussions, learning activities, and assignments.

References:

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Gioia, D. A. (1987). Contribution! Not participation in the OB classroom. Journal of Management Education, 11, 15-19.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustration Online courses support regular and substantive interaction by by making it clear how and when they will provide feedback on student contributions in course interactions. Instructors establish this in the design of the course by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation and self assessment, and details on how they will provide feedback, and evaluate work. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these activities, to get help or clarifications, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these activities, or to review work, assessment, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Take a “three before me” approach requiring that all learners check at least three outside resources before approaching you to answer a question or posting in the discussion forum (and citing those resources). Resources can include other classmates!
  • Require that learners cite outside resources to support their discussion forum posts.
  • Do a “think, pair, share” activity, where learners review a problem on their own, work together to solve a problem, then report their resolution or findings with the rest of the class.
  • Assign a different learner each module to be the discussion forum scribe, and to write up a synthesized version of the conversation, along with appropriate citations to share back with the class.
  • Use blogs as a space for learners to share and comment on current events, news, or trends related to course content.
  • Have learners submit an annotated bibliography as part of a group project, then post them in the course for review.

Examples

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to providing opportunities for learners to contribute new knowledge and related information from diverse sources in online courses.

Implement Tuning Protocol to Improve Online Discussion Peer Replies and Assignment Quality
Asynchronous discussions are often utilized in online courses and while they can be effective toward creating and sustaining a learning community, they are not effective if not optimally designed. It can sometimes be difficult for students to converse in a way in which knowledge is co-constructed, and a way in which students can constructively critique each other in order to improve assignments. (Read more …)
Student Generated Blogs for Journals and Reflection
UCF education professor Debbie Kirkley uses student blogs to fulfill the requirement of students to keep a journal throughout the semester to reflect on course projects and their experiences. (Read more …)
Use Google Educational Apps to Foster Online Collaborations
In the 21st century modern education is becoming increasingly complex due to the technological environment within which it operates. This new environment offers exciting new possibilities but also raises challenges. (Read more …)
Use Three-Before-Me as a Communication Strategy
The concept of “Three Before Me” pushes the responsibility of locating an answer to commonly asked questions to the student. The student must prove to the professor that he/she has contacted three different sources prior to contacting the professor. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Gao, F., Zhang, T., & Franklin, T. (n.d). Designing asynchronous online discussion environments: Recent progress and possible future directions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 469-483.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.