Remember when modeling your expectations for students to be sure to tie your expectations back to the learning objectives and course outcomes.

Student Participation Requirements

During Classtime – “classtime” in an asynchronous course should be identified in the course syllabus. Even if there are no sessions when the class meets at the same time, students are expected to complete work that includes reading, doing, watching, listening, collaboration or reflecting.

Outside Classtime – include guidelines for your expectations on how students are actively learning outside of class time. Ask reflective type questions about relating the topic they are learning to real world situations.  Gardner Campbell had this idea of applying an “Apgar”-type score to student’s learning by asking questions pertaining to time spend on talking, reading, or reflecting about the material outside of classtime.

Example: information included in syllabus:

  A few important things to remember:

  • Per Board of Regents Requirements, this course should take about 10 hours per week, and content has been added accordingly.

    We must meet academic integrity standards, and in order to do that, we have to require that students either sit in class for 3 hours and listen to a lecture (and typically not receive a grade for doing so), or complete activities that are intended to be fun and engaging in a Guided Self-Study folder in Blackboard (and typically not receive a grade for doing so).  The online courses are designed with working students in mind – people who can’t commit 3 hours to the classroom environment each week, but still want to further their education.  We must include the Guided Self-Study content as part of the coursework, just as you must attend a classroom environment on campus.
  • Assignments will typically be graded within one week  of the assignment deadline (not one week of your completion date).
  • Grades show as letter grades (Click My Grades or Tools on menu at left).  To know your “score,” look at your assignment and subtract the number you missed from the total number possible.
  • There is a “Save” option for each question – make sure to click it!  That way, if you lose your Internet connect you don’t lose your work!
  • Contact your instructor (Faculty link at left) if you have any questions.
  • Read your syllabus! Know what is required and what to expect.
  • Check the announcements page periodically throughout the week.
  • Check your university email account frequently – this is where your instructor or others will contact you!
  • Have fun learning!

Addressing familiarity with Technology

Just because a student enrolls in an online course doesn’t mean that they are completely technology-savvy, and in most cases, students might be inexperienced in some of the technological aspects of your course. Setting the technology-specific expectations at the beginning of the class outlining what tools you might be using and offering resources to help students get started can help to reduce student anxiety and get them concentrating on the content sooner.

Well written instructions

Instructions for learning activities or assessments should contain two parts: technical directions (example: ENGL F111X) for how you want the assessment submitted to you and complete instructions (example: ENGL F111X) for what you want student to do.

Using Rubics

Rubrics are one way to tell students what you are looking for when assessing assignments. There are all kinds of rubrics that are available for assessing different types of student interactions. There are also tools like Rubistar, that help you create your own rubric.

Example: Writing Rubric for a non-English course

Points Expectations
Exceeds Expectations – 4 pts The writer demonstrates a good grasp of standard writing conventions (e.g., grammar, capitalization, punctuation, usage, spelling, paragraphing) and uses them effectively to enhance readability. Errors tend to be so few and minor the reader can easily skim right over them unless specifically searching for them.
Meets Expectations – 3 pts The writer shows reasonable control over standard writing conventions. Some errors are evident, but do not take away from the overall effect of the paper.
Partially Meets Expectations – 2 pts The writer shows control over a limited range of standard conventions. However, the paper would require moderate editing for publication. Errors are numerous or serious enough to be somewhat distracting but the writer handles some conventions well.
Does Not Meet Expectations – 1 pt Errors in spelling, punctuation, usage and grammar, capitalization and/or paragraphing repeatedly distract the reader and make the text difficult to read

Providing Sample answers

Example: Identification Terms (HIST F100x)

Questions about Identification Terms

Are there any word lengths for identification paragraphs?

No, but keep it short and sweet. The key word here is PARAGRAPH. That means that you need to compose several sentences that fully answer the five W’s about a term. You write one paragraph for each term, thus four paragraphs will be required.

Longer is not necessarily better.

You should be able to identify terms in no more than 100 words. Ask yourself if the information you have provided really covers all five areas. Ask yourself if each piece of information you provide is essential in identifying the term and its significance. If not, then consult your books again or consult other sources (and cite them!).
The Five W’s: Who, what, when, where, and why it matters

For each term you are asked to identify, whether as part of a lesson assignment or as part of an exam, be sure you provide information about the five W’s:

  1. Who is it or who was involved?
  2. What is it or what did the person do that was important for world history?
  3. When did the events take place or when did the person live? This could be as specific as a day or as general as a decade.
  4. Where did the event take place or what areas were affected by the policy, etc?
  5. Why is this item important for world history? Does it illustrate a larger theme? Did it change the course of events? Etc.

Ramses II: Ramses II was the Egyptian pharaoh during whose reign Moses may have lived and the Israelite Exodus from Egypt may have occurred. He ruled in the 13th century BCE. [who, what, where, and when]. The Bible doesn’t name the pharaoh, but there were a lot of building projects during Ramses’s reign like the ones the Hebrews had to build that were mentioned in the Bible. After his reign the name “Israel” first appeared in Egyptian records as a defeated foe. [significance relating Ramses’s reign to the problem of dating and verifying early Biblical events].

The above example is just one of several combinations to identify Ramses II and was written by an actual student of mine several years ago. It’s not perfectly composed, and there’s a lot more detail available about Ramses II (one of Egypt’s best-known rulers), but it does a good job of getting to the heart of the matter and making connections to larger historical questions.

Example: Modeling a good post for Current Event Blog (FISH F101)


About the Author:

Jennifer is an instructional designer at UAF eLearning with over 20 years experience working with faculty. She is interested in emergent technologies such as augmented reality, interactive media, and wearable devices and how these trends fit into successful educational experiences. She also enjoys painting, photography, travel and exploring wilderness areas off the grid. Connect with Jennifer at

This page was last updated on : Dec 16, 2014