4.2 Student-to-Student Engagement

Learning activities facilitate active engagement in the learning process, requiring students to regularly interact with each other.

Examples include collaborative projects, opportunities for peer feedback, and group problem solving.

Points: 3 (Essential)

QM Alignment: 5.2, 5.3, RI – SACS


Keeping students actively engaged with the content, each other, and the instructor, promotes student success. When students are observing, doing, communicating, and reflecting, they are actively working with concepts and people. Interaction is at the center of the teaching and learning process.

Student-to-Student Interaction

Interaction between students can include formal course-related collaboration and interaction as well as more informal social interaction, which can increase students’ comfort with each other and with the online environment.   Student-to-student interaction-based activities include, but are not limited to:

  • group projects
  • group case studies
  • peer instruction
  • role playing
  • synchronous or asynchronous discussions or debates
  • collaborative brainstorming
  • peer review of selected work (For more on using Canvas tools to manage peer review, see the Peer Review section of the Canvas Instructor Guide.)

Any of these examples can be used on a large or a small scale, ranging from semester-long project groups doing research and presenting results to a short video case or a discussion forum where students brainstorm alternatives to a textbook problem.

Depending on the size of your class, you can encourage student-to-student interaction class-wide or in smaller groups or pairs.  When working with smaller groups, it helps to emphasize individual accountability, positive interdependence, and positive interaction in grading the group’s work. This strategy leads to three grades on a group project, emphasizing the three aspects of group work:

  1. individual contribution to the group project
  2. synthesis of the individual parts into a project that shows collaboration, consensus, and learning
  3. working together to encourage and facilitate each other’s efforts to complete the project

For tips on effective student group work, see the resources at the bottom.


Common Issues

  • No discussions, group projects, or other examples of opportunities for students to interact with one another.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does an introductory discussion activity at the beginning of the semester count?
    • That counts, but that shouldn’t be the only opportunity for students to interact with one another.
  • I’ve got too much content to cover for time for group or collaborative activities.
    • One way to think about it: anytime you post a video or an article or chapter for students to watch or read, how do you know they actually watched it or read it or understood it? They may skip it or watch/read it without really understanding it. That’s an opportunity to connect your videos and readings to corresponding activities where students discuss or test what they’ve watched or read, which could include quizzes, assignments, or group activities such as discussions or projects. Don’t my exams already cover that? Frequent, low-stakes assessment activities and collaborative activities are more effective for student learning than only relying on a few high-stakes exams.
  • Why is student-to-student interaction important?
    • See research on the ICAP framework: Student learn more from interactive, collaborative activities than individual, passive learning activities. Interactive > Constructive > Active > Passive (ICAP).





Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

HCC Online Course High Quality Standards by Hillsborough Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *