What Three Things Should I Do Each Week to Engage Online Students?

April 06, 2022

By Hannah Flatt 

At the March 30, 2022, Midweek Mentor Session, Dr. Jean Mandernach, Executive Director of the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching at Grand Canyon University, presented strategies for student engagement in online courses. She emphasized that student engagement is often overlooked, but it’s uniquely important in an online setting as a replacement for the social environment of the traditional face-to-face classroom. 

In order to facilitate online student engagement, Dr. Mandernach proposed three strategies for instructors to utilize each week: connect, interact, and respond. First, connect with students by being visible, personalizing your course through video introductions and lectures, and offering opportunities for synchronous communication. Next, interact with students so they feel your presence in the course, and create clear expectations about when and how you will engage. Lastly, be responsive to students through timely and personalized feedback. Research shows that online students want to connect with others, and these strategies will lead to better student engagement. 

Our discussion was led by Dr. Alicia Plemmons (School of Business) and Pamela Williams (IDLT). Dr. Plemmons acknowledged that engaging students often involves a considerable time commitment from instructors, so she offered ideas for how she connects and responds to her own students in a timely manner. First, she updates the beginning of recycled lecture videos with personalized content each semester. Also, she utilizes the one-to-many format when providing feedback, creating a weekly wrap-up video that addresses emails and questions from students that week. One-to-many, peer-to-peer, and feed-forward feedback strategies are particularly helpful tools for providing feedback to students in larger courses. 

Ms. Williams discussed how the engagement strategies introduced in this session can help to satisfy the U.S. Department of Education’s regular and substantive interaction (RSI) requirement for online courses. These interactions must be instructor-initiated and include at least two types each week. Interactions that satisfy the RSI requirement include facilitating group discussion, providing feedback on student coursework, and responding to questions about course content. Utilizing the online student engagement strategies outlined in this session can help instructors meet these RSI requirements.  


For assistance implementing student engagement strategies in your online courses, please contact the ITS-Instructional Design and Learning Technologies team at 618-650-5500 or help@siue.edu. 

Categories: All Categories, Comma, Separated, Categories