4.4 Substantive Student-to-Instructor Engagement

Learning activities provide opportunities for substantive interaction between students and instructor. Substantive interaction is focused on course content and promotes active learning.

Examples include an instructor email previewing course concepts, a weekly announcement to synthesize learning, or individual feedback on assignments.

Points: 3 (Essential)

QM Alignment: 5.2, SI – SACS


Beginning July 1, 2021, Florida implemented specific definitions for the “regular and substantive interaction” (RSI) requirements for online courses.

Substantive Interaction

Engaging students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, and also include at least two of the following:
  • Providing direct instruction;
  • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework;
  • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course or competency;
  • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency; or
  • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.
The creation of assignments or assessments alone is not enough. Institutions must provide at least two of the listed opportunities for interaction.

Regular Interaction


Substantive interaction involves direct interaction between the learner and the instructor.  It can include
  • 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 on key course concepts.

Ways to Meet Standard 4.4

  • Learning activities provide opportunities for substantive interaction between students and instructor.
  • An instructor email that previews course concepts
  • A weekly announcement to synthesize learning
  • Comprehensive, individual feedback on assignments.
  • Direct instruction via a one-on-one meeting with a student or via a live, remote class meeting

Ideas for Substantive Student-to-Instructor Engagement

Fink’s FIDElity Feedback Model

To ensure feedback is substantive, you may want to apply the FIDElity Feedback Model.  When responding to student assignments and activities, your feedback should be
  • Frequent: Give feedback daily, weekly, or as frequently as possible.
  • Immediate: Get the feedback to students as soon as possible.
  • Discriminating: Make clear what the difference is between poor, acceptable, and exceptional work by referencing a rubric or criteria
  • Loving: Be empathetic in the way you deliver your feedback.

Via Fink’s Significant Learning Model.

Sample Feedback Policy

During a typical week, you may find that the instructor is quite present in the course and will reply to emails, comment in discussions, or respond to questions in Chat. You can certainly obtain feedback on a rough draft from the instructor and peers prior to the due date. All weekly assignments will be officially graded after the Sunday, 6:00pm due date. When an assignment or discussion is graded, you can expect 
  • A completed rubric.
  • Additional instructor comments via the text box or audio. 
  • Suggestions for improvement. 
Once all student submissions are graded, you can expect a class feedback announcement on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you need to discuss a specific grade, you should contact me via email with specific questions. Normally, we will schedule a consultation.




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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.

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