6. Communicate high expectations

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Setting High expectations for students lets them know that this important and interesting. Being clear about what you are asking them to do directs their actions. Students coming to higher education at a community college vary enormously in background, recent academic experience and motivation for learning the subject.

Expectations can be presented and reinforced through evaluation, communication, and modeling.


Hold high but realistic expectations for your students.

Research has shown that a teacher's expectations have a powerful effect on a student's performance. If you act as though you expect your students to be motivated, hardworking, and interested in the course, they are more likely to be so.

Set realistic expectations for students when you make assignments, give presentations, conduct discussions, and grade examinations. "Realistic" in this context means that your standards are high enough to motivate students to do their best work but not so high that students will inevitably be frustrated in trying to meet those expectations. To develop the drive to achieve, students need to believe that achievement is possible -which means that you need to provide early opportunities for success.

--from Motivating Students

Students say...

  • I learned that online groups can actually work pretty well using discussion board. I think since you can see who's participating on the discussion board, everyone feels the need to participate in some way.

Enhancing Instruction

There are a number of ways to communicate your expectations to students. Anything web-based will help. Students appreciate having online access to the course syllabus, assignment information, grading criteria. While they may not actually read the information, at least they have access to it if the need arises.

Grading Rubrics

Rubrics or explicit descriptions of grading criteria help students determine what is expected of them for a particular assignment, and can determine if they have adequately fulfilled the requirements. Rubrics take the guess work out of the assignment definition and grading process. Publishing the rubric along with the assignment helps set expectations.

Discussion Participation

Defining requirements for discussion participation is important.

  • counting posts - "I agree" doesn't count
  • grading a few individual posts as mini essays
  • checking for critical thinking in reply to a prompt

Required Regular / Frequent Access to the Course

Asynchronous discussion is one of the important technology-supported learning activities. To be effective, students must participate regularly and often. Requiring frequent access is essential to keep discussions moving and to ensure that all student contribute.

There is a tendency for students to assume that "anytime, anywhere" assignments means the 20 minutes before the due time and date. Establishing guidelines for participation frequency is key to successful discussion.

Academic Integrity

I ask students to find sites that address academic integrity and discuss their findings. Here is an example.


This website gives a range of plagiarism by dividing the academic dishonesty into four categories of fraud, patchwriting, failure to cite, and failure to quote. These four actions fall under three branches of consciousness of plagiarizing, which include intentional, unintentional, and non-attribution. It can occur because of lack of understanding or inexperience with citations and sources.

I think that academic integrity is an issue at any school, especially with up to date technology. I think that DeAnza's distance learning and switching questions on different quizzes is the right step in preventing academic dishonesty.

100 key FREE tools

Build content and share it with others. These tools will help you create additional content and share it with others.

Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally

In the sequence of Bloom's categorization of high order thinking skills, creating is at the top. This is where technology provides some unique opportunities for students to use and demonstrate these skills.

Creating: designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making, programming, filming, animating, Blogging, Video blogging, mixing, remixing, wiki-ing, publishing, videocasting, podcasting, directing/producing, creating or building mash ups.

Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.php?articleID=196605124

Teaching and Learning

Online presentation and course navigation contribute to students' success. Students need to be able to locate information and understand how it relates to them. Help students by describing your expectations and placing them where students will access them.

Course Settings

Appearance is important. Students are sophisticated consumers of tech-based presentation. The general "look" - background colors, font, icons, ... are all controlled by the Theme for the course. Even within the same course management system, if individual courses are set to different themes, they may look a lot different. This may be desirable as it allows students to tell courses apart at a glance and keeps them from being confused. Some organizations want to "brand" their courses so they can be easily identified by their "look" and consistent layout reduces the student "learning curve."

Catalyst - In the Settings page, near the bottom, is a pull down menu for Force theme - you can change that and your whole course automatically looks different. I use "standardwhite" for this workshop course and orangewhite for something else I'm working on. The option "do not force" is the plain mostly white theme.

Note - You can only change your settings in catalystdev, not the live server. However, settings in your Master course on the development system will be copied along with the rest of your course to the live course.

Hybrid courses

In "hybrid" classes, a significant amount of the course learning activity has been moved online, making it possible to reduce the amount of time spent in the classroom. Traditional face-to-face instruction is reduced but not eliminated.

Ten Questions to consider when redesigning a course for hybrid teaching and learning

Tracking Students

Tracking student participation is made easy. Tracking access to course content, responses to quiz questions, discussion participation, grade point totals - all are readily available for viewing and analysis.

  • attendance - not logging in for 10 days "counts" as 3 or more unexcused absences
  • log of messages to students - record of conversation
  • quiz response report - are students understanding the concepts that this question test? Should the questions be changed? Should the teaching be changed?

Students have expectations too...

Are YOU and your course meeting your students' expectations? Do you know what students are expecting from a technology enhanced instructor? Ask them. Including frequent surveys or critical thinking assignments that ask students about their own learn experience in your course environment are wonderful sources of information and insight. You are not required to act on their suggestions, as some may not be practical or support your course objectives, but some are really useful.

Learn more...

..return to Technology Supported Learning#6. Communicate high expectations and complete the activities - Explore, Learn and Apply