Regular Effective Contact Guidelines


The following guidelines have been developed by the SCC Distance Education Subcommittee to inform faculty of their responsibility to
maintain regular effective contact with students when teaching courses wherein any portion is completed via distance education technology (as required by Title 5 regulations).   

The entire document can be downloaded here as a PDF file.

In hybrid or fully online courses, ensuring Regular Effective Instructor/Student Contact guarantees that the student receives the benefit of the instructor’s presence in the learning environment both as a provider of instructional information and as a facilitator of student learning.
Title 5 regulations do not make a distinction between regular and distance education courses beyond the need to have a separate curriculum approval process and the need to ensure regular effective contact.  Therefore, it is assumed that those qualities of regular effective contact described above for the face to face environment, should also be applied to the distance education situation.  The DE Guidelines require colleges to develop a policy regarding regular effective contact that addresses “the type and frequency of interaction appropriate to each DE course/section or session”. –Distance Education Guidelines for the California Community Colleges

SCC Guidelines:
All DE courses at Sacramento City College, whether hybrid or fully online will include regular effective contact as described below:

•    Initiated interaction: Instructors will regularly initiate interaction with students to determine that they are accessing and comprehending course material and that they are participating regularly in the activities in the course.  Providing students with an open ended question forum, although appropriate, does not constitute the entirety of effective instructor initiated interaction.

•    Frequency:  DE Courses are considered equivalent to face to face courses. Therefore, the frequency of the contact will be at least the same as would be established in a face to face course.  Contact shall be distributed in a manner that will ensure that regular contact is maintained, given the nature of asynchronous instructional methodologies, over the course of a week and should occur as often as is appropriate for the course.

•    Establishing expectations:  An instructor and/or department established policy describing the frequency and timeliness of instructor initiated contact and instructor feedback, will be posted in the syllabus and/or other course documents that are made available for students when the course officially opens each semester.

Type of Contact:  Regarding the type of contact that will exist in all SCC DE courses, instructors will, at a minimum, use the following resources to initiate contact with students:

•    Discussion forums with appropriate instructor participation
•    Email
•    Weekly announcements in the Learning Management System
•    Timely feedback for student work.
•    Timely response to student emails or inquiries
•    Instructors should also choose to use other forms of communication, as mentioned in section 55211 of Title 5.  (“…through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, correspondence, voice mail. e-mail, or other activities.”) and/or  CCCConfer, video conference, podcast, or other synchronous technologies may also be included.

Associated Regulations:

Title 5 and the Distance Education Guidelines for the California Community Colleges state:
55211. Instructor Contact.
In addition to the requirements of section 55002 and any locally established requirements
applicable to all courses, district-governing boards shall ensure that:
(a) All approved courses offered as distance education include regular effective
contact between instructor and students, through group or individual meetings,
orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field
trips, library workshops, telephone contact, correspondence, voice mail. e-mail, or
other activities.
(b) (b) All distance education courses are delivered consistent with guidelines issued
by the Chancellor pursuant to section 409 of the Procedures and Standing Orders
of the Board of Governors. Regular effective contact is an academic and
professional matter pursuant to title 5, section 53200.
Note: Authority cited: Sections 70901 and 66700, Education Code.
Reference: Sections 70901 and 70902, Education Code.

Guideline for Section 55211
This section defines what contact must be maintained between instructor and student:

Subsection (a) stresses the responsibility of the instructor in a DE course to initiate
regular contact with enrolled students to verify their participation and performance
status. The use of the term “regular effective contact” in this context suggests that
students should have frequent opportunities to ask questions and receive answers from
the instructor of record.

Subsection (b) honors the principle that for DE courses, there are a number of
acceptable interactions between instructor and student, not all of which may require in-person
contact. Thus, districts will need to define “effective contact, “ including how
often, and in what manner instructor-student interaction is achieved. It is important that
districts document how regular effective contact is achieved. Since regular effective
contact was declared an academic and professional matter, this documentation must
include demonstration of collegial consultation with the academic senate, for example
through its delegation to the local curriculum committee. A natural place for this to occur
is during the separate course approval process (see section 55213). Documentation
should consist of the inclusion of information in applicable outlines of record on the type
and frequency of interaction appropriate to each DE course/section or session. As
indicated in the Guideline to Section 55219, districts need to describe the type and
quantity of student-faculty interaction in their annual reports to their local governing
boards and the State Chancellor’s Office.

About The COVE

The COVE (Center for Online and Virtual Education) is part of the Learning Resources Division at Sacramento City College.

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