Substantive Interaction and Administrative Drop Policy

Overview: Substantive Interaction and Administrative Drop Policy

All students – regardless of the modality of course delivery – are deserving of regular attention and support by Truman faculty.  Likewise, for the effectiveness of their own education, Truman students should be expected to regularly engage with course content.  In taking steps to ensure such interaction, Truman complies with federal policies pertaining to the distribution of Title IV financial aid.  It also protects the student by ensuring that fewer financial aid or personal dollars are expended in situations where learning is not taking place.

Definitions (as taken from 34 CFR 600.2 as amended in 2020)

Academic Engagement:  “Active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student’s course of study that–

  1. Is defined by the institution in accordance with any applicable requirements of its State or accrediting agency;
  2. Includes, but is not limited to-i. Attending a synchronous class, lecture, recitation, or field or laboratory activity, physically or online, where there is an opportunity for interaction between the instructor and students;
    ii. Submitting an academic assignment;
    iii. Taking an assessment or an exam;
    iv. Participating in an interactive tutorial, webinar, or other interactive computer-assisted instruction;
    v. Participating in a study group, group project, or an online discussion that is assigned by the institution; or
    vi. Interacting with an instructor about academic matters; and
  3. Does not include, for example-

i)         Living in institutional housing;
ii)        Participating in the institution’s meal plan;
iii)       Logging into an online class or tutorial without any further participation; or
iv)       Participating in academic counseling or advisement.”

Distance Education:  Distance Education is:

  1. “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.
  2. The technologies that may be used to offer distance education include–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 paragraph (2)(i) through (iii) of this definition.”

Instructor:  “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.”

Substantive Interaction:  [As a subset of the definition of distance education, subsection (4)] “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–

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.”

Institutional Assurance  [As a subset of the definition of distance education, subsection (5) “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)             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 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.”

Truman adopts and implements the United States Department of Education definitions cited above and aims to guarantee regular and substantive interaction through a variety of quality student engagement strategies involving regular faculty-initiated interactions that require student responses.


Faculty-Initiated Substantive Interaction

A quality learning experience requires a combination of interactions between faculty and students (both initiated by the instructor and the student) as well as between students and the curriculum developed by faculty.  Instructors are expected to regularly initiate communication with students for the purposes of creating the kinds of substantive interactions as defined above.

Academic Engagement 

Students are expected to actively engage in the courses in which they are enrolled.  Active engagement in response to faculty-initiated interactions, as well as the content of the curriculum is essential to successful progress in, and completion of, coursework.  Toward that end, students who do not actively engage in their coursework face administrative removal from their course(s).

Administrative Removal From Coursework

Students must demonstrate academic engagement (as defined above) in each of their courses, each semester, during the period commencing the first day of the first week of courses and ending at 11:59 pm Central Time on the Saturday ending the first week of courses.  Failure to make such engagement in a course or to notify the instructor of the course of extenuating circumstances (such as technological programs, health emergencies, etc.) will result in the student being removed administratively by the Registrar.  Said removal shall be completed no later than the end of the second full week of classes in the semester.  Applicable dates shall be published on the Registrar’s website each term.

Faculty shall be responsible for:

  1. initiating a substantive interaction with students to which they must demonstrate engagement during the designated period;
  2. providing a clear statement in the syllabus describing the engagement requirement and the consequences for not engaging;
  3. contacting all students who fail to meet the interaction requirements, no later than 5 pm Central Time on the Monday immediately following the conclusion of the first week of class, providing a warning and soliciting information respecting extenuating circumstances related to non-engagement;
  4. informing the Registrar no later than 5 pm the Wednesday following the first week of class of the interaction status of all students enrolled in their classes.
  5. For all students who engage during the first week, but who subsequently disengage from the course, provide to the Registrar (at the time of grading) the last day of attendance or engagement for those students earning an F or not completing a course.

Consequences of Disenrollment

Students receiving financial aid will have the appropriate amount of aid, as defined by Truman policy and federal regulations, returned.  Students who have paid tuition to the University will receive refunds in accordance with the refund policy and adjusted to the date they are disenrolled.  The University is not responsible for delays in processing that may impact refund amounts.  To ensure the maximum refund, if applicable, students should drop a class or classes they do not intend to participate in as soon as they are aware and students should withdraw from all classes for the applicable semester if they do not intend to participate in any classes.

Model Syllabus Statement

Truman policy and federal regulations require that students demonstrate that they are academically engaged in the courses they take.  You are required to meet this requirement within the first calendar week of the semester, beginning at 12:00 am on Monday (insert date) and ending 11:59 pm Saturday (insert date).  Failure to do so, or to provide an explanation of an extenuating circumstance by that date and time will result in your removal from the course.  Under certain circumstances, removal could impact your scholarship eligibility or financial aid.  For the purposes of this class, establishing academic engagement requires, at a minimum, [Insert assignment you need them to complete.] [Note for faculty:  Attendance at a class session is sufficient to meet this requirement.  For an online course, completion of some modest introductory assignment, such as a discussion board post, is sufficient.  Merely logging-in to Blackboard is not sufficient.]