Six Factors of Course Success
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Materials and Media
Assessment and Feedback
Course success factors
Following are six success factors and supporting recommendations aimed at helping strengthen instruction. In reviewing your course, consider whether these success factors are currently effective in your course.
You can complete the Course Success Self-Review, based on these six factors. This is an anonymous and quick survey tool for instructors. It is intended to help instructors strengthen the design and delivery of their courses, leading to better learning and student satisfaction. These recommendations are relevant to instruction regardless of modality: online, face-to-face, and hybrid. Based on your answers, you will receive targeted feedback and resources that can help you put these recommendations into practice.
1. Course Success: Course Planning: The amount of time a student spends learning reflects the university’s guidelines for credit hours (lectures, discussion, reading, assignments, studying, etc.). The definition of a credit hour is based on federal rules and ensures students receive the enriching and engaging education they deserve without demanding more effort than is required.
- Recommendation 1.1 Course Planning: Course outcomes
- Clearly state course learning outcomes explaining what students will know or be able to do at the end of the course; highlight these outcomes throughout.
- Recommendation 1.2 Course Planning: Unit-level objectives
- Clearly state unit-level learning objectives that are written from the learners’ perspective, and are prominently located throughout the course.
- Recommendation 1.3 Course Planning: Workload
- Explain the amount of work you are asking students to do, and how the time commitment fulfills the federal guidelines for course time.
- Recommendation 1.4 Course Planning: Flexibility and accommodations
- Provide clear policies regarding how you will offer flexibility and accommodations.
- Recommendation 1.5 Course Planning: Collecting student feedback
- Collect feedback regularly from students to make evidence-based decisions about student workload and the learning environment.
2. Course Support: Supporting Students: An inclusive learning environment is established when all students are supported in adapting to the structure, schedule, expectations, and technologies used in the course. Supporting students requires thorough communication about how their course is set up, what they have to do, how the course is run administratively, and what resources and services are available to help them succeed.
- Recommendation 2.1 Supporting Students: Equity and inclusion
- Ensure that course design and teaching provides equal access and is welcoming and inclusive to every learner.
- Recommendation 2.2 Supporting Students: Organization and navigation
- Organize the course, Canvas site, and other online components so they are easy for students to navigate.
- Recommendation 2.3 Supporting Students: Course orientation
- Provide resources that help students orient to your course successfully.
- Recommendation 2.4 Supporting Students: Health-promoting practices
- Design and teach your course using health-promoting pedagogies and trauma-informed practices; destigmatize help-seeking behaviors; and recognize when students might be struggling, respond appropriately, and effectively refer students to campus resources.
- Recommendation 2.5 Supporting Students: Academic and learning support
- Foster skills and practices for effective learning, and integrate academic support and services throughout your course.
- Recommendation 2.6 Supporting Students: Selecting and explaining technology
- Select technologies to further your course learning goals; identify for students which technologies will be used and how they can find support.
3. Course Success: Instructor-Student Interactions: The course is designed to include regular and substantive interaction and communication between student and instructor. Regardless of modality, a fully-realized educational experience provides students with ample opportunity to ask questions, receive answers, and obtain feedback and guidance from instructors.
- Recommendation 3.1 Instructor-Student Interaction: Welcome Message
- Lay the groundwork for positive working relationships with students by sharing a “welcome message.”
- Recommendation 3.2 Instructor-Student Interaction: Expectations for communication
- State your expectations for student-instructor communication so students understand when and how to contact you for different kinds of questions.
- Recommendation 3.3 Instructor-Student Interaction: Maintaining presence
- Plan and provide a variety of ways to communicate with students in order to maintain an active presence within the course.
- Recommendation 3.4 Instructor-Student Interaction: Providing feedback
- Provide students with specific, timely, and constructive feedback to help them keep track of their progress and improve.
- Recommendation 3.5 Instructor-Student Interaction: Balancing interactions
- Plan how to balance synchronous (same time) and asynchronous interactions (own time) in your course. Take into account how students benefit from both forms of participation.
4. Course Success: Student-Student Interactions: The course is designed to include regular and substantive interaction among students. A fully-realized educational experience provides students with ample opportunity to actively engage and collaborate with their peers.
- Recommendation 4.1 Student-Student Interactions: Community and presence
- Build a learning community by encouraging students to introduce themselves and make connections.
- Recommendation 4.2 Student-Student Interactions: Inclusive communication
- Establish guidelines for productive and inclusive student-to-student interaction and communication, addressing issues that may arise with care.
- Recommendation 4.3 Student-Student Interactions: Fostering interaction
- Foster meaningful exchange of ideas and experiences among students in asynchronous and synchronous forums.
- Recommendation 4.4 Student-Student Interactions: Group work
- Facilitate group work and collaborative problem solving, defined roles, and by prioritizing interaction, not dependence.
5. Course Success: Materials and media: Lectures and course materials are accessible, multi-faceted, varied, and aligned with course learning outcomes.
- Recommendation 5.1 Materials and media: Variety of materials
- Use a variety of instructional materials and media in the course.
- Recommendation 5.2 Materials and media: Materials alignment
- Explain to students how instructional materials and media help them complete activities and align with unit objectives and course learning outcomes.
- Recommendation 5.3 Materials and media: Structuring lecture materials
- Make the delivery of lectures or recorded course content effective with a clear structure, visual support, and appropriate pacing.
- Recommendation 5.4 Materials and media: Accessibility of video content
- Provide quality, accessible video and other media in order to deliver course material effectively and inclusively.
- Recommendation 5.5 Materials and media: Accessibility of text content
- Provide accessible text and images in files, documents, Canvas Pages, and web pages in order to meet the diverse needs of learners and learners working in different learning environments.
6. Course Success: Assessment and feedback: Methods for assessment, grading, and feedback are planned and clearly outlined for students. Assessment methods should be carefully considered in terms of equity, transparency, rigor, and integrity, and may challenge conventional approaches to quizzes and exams.
- Recommendation 6.1 Assessments and feedback: Measuring achievement
- Design assessment to measure students’ achievement of course learning outcomes; explain to students how assessments align with outcomes.
- Recommendation 6.2 Assessment and feedback: Grading policy
- Clearly state the course grading policy at the beginning of the course.
- Recommendation 6.3 Assessment and feedback: Frequency and variety
- Provide frequent opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways.
- Recommendation 6.4 Assessment and feedback: Writing clear instructions
- Provide clear instructions to preempt student questions and build students’ confidence.
- Recommendation 6.5 Assessment and feedback: Expectations and feedback
- Explain your expectations and how you will evaluate and provide feedback on work submitted by students.
- Recommendation 6.6 Assessment and feedback: Academic Integrity
- Design assessments that promote academic integrity and honesty.