Regular and Substantive Interaction
As per UHD's Online Education Policy "faculty teaching in an online course section must have regular and substantive interactions with students throughout the term in compliance with the Title IV requirements."
This webpage is a resource that provides the official regulation language and identifies the strategies that you can employ to ensure compliance in your online courses. While there are multiple strategies for you to choose from, please review your online course designs to be deliberate in including and maintaining these strategies.
While regular and substantive interaction (RSI) includes many best practices you are
employing in your courses, the US Department of Education has recently provided guidance on
what constitutes regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors.
UHD online courses must meet these guidelines to ensure that they are financial-aid
eligible; the goal of the guidance is to more clearly distinguish "distance education
courses" from "correspondence courses" which are not DOE financial-aid eligible.
The primary requirements for RSI are as follows
- Engagement must be faculty-initiated (e.g., individualized emails about progress; scheduled office hours)
- Engagement must be regular, scheduled, and predictable (e.g., sending weekly announcements
with reminders of upcoming work, regular discussion responses)
- Engagement must be substantive, focused on the course subject or content (e.g., offering
reading questions for chapters; providing an instruction video to describe an assignment)
Additional resources and guidance will be developed in consultation with faculty and
Overview and Definitions:
Correspondence education is comprised of correspondence courses which are defined by the US Department of Education as,
- A course provided by an institution under which the institution provides instructional
materials, by mail or electronic transmission, including examinations on the materials,
to students who are separated from the instructors. Interaction between instructors
and students in a correspondence course is limited, is not regular and substantive,
and is primarily initiated by the student.
- If a course is part correspondence and part residential training, the Secretary considers the course to be a correspondence course.
- A correspondence course is not distance education.
Distance education is comprised of distance education courses which are defined by the US Department of Education as,
- Education that uses one or more of the technologies listed in paragraphs (2)(i) through
(iv) of this definition to deliver instruction to students who are separated from
the instructor or instructors and to support regular and substantive interaction between
the students and the instructor or instructors, either synchronously or asynchronously.
- The technologies that may be used to offer distance education include—
- For purposes of this definition, an instructor is an individual responsible for delivering
course content and who meets the qualifications for instruction established by an
institution's accrediting agency.
- For purposes of this definition, substantive interaction is engaging students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, and also includes at least two of the following—
- An institution ensures regular interaction between a student and an instructor or instructors by, prior to the student's completion of a course or competency—
(i) The internet;
(ii) One-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices;
(iii) Audio conference; or
(iv) Other media used in a course in conjunction with any of the technologies listed in paragraphs 2(i) through (iii) of this definition.
(i) Providing direct instruction;
(ii) Assessing or providing feedback on a student's coursework;
(iii) Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course or competency;
(iv) Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency; or
(v) Other instructional activities approved by the institution's or program's accrediting agency.
(i) Providing the opportunity for substantive interactions with the student on a predictable and regular basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency; and
(ii) Monitoring the student's academic engagement and success and ensuring that the 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.
Substantive interaction is engaging students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, and 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
An institution ensures regular interaction between a student and an instructor or instructors by, prior to the student’s completion of a course or competency:
- Providing 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; and
- 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.
Examples of Regular and Substantive Interaction for Instructor of Record:
- Participation in regularly scheduled learning sessions (where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between you and the student).
- Provide personalized comments (in any medium) for an individual student’s assignment or exam.
- Actively facilitate an online discussion.
- Instructor posts announcements, email, or social media check-ins about academic aspects of the class.
- Provide an overview video to accompany recorded lectures.
- Identify students struggling to reach mastery through observation of discussion activity, assessment completion, or even user activity and offer additional opportunities for interaction.
- Use small working/study groups that are moderated by the instructor