Academic Engagement for Financial Aid FAQs

FAQ – Academic Engagement for Financial Aid Using Webcourses@UCF

Common Questions

Why are UCF faculty being required to use Webcourses@UCF to document students’ academic engagement?

UCF must comply with a federal financial aid regulation that states that in order to receive federal aid, students must be actively academically engaged (according to a federal definition) in each course in which they are enrolled. We are required to gather this information as soon as possible with the start of each new semester. Without verification of this engagement, students will not receive their aid.

Webcourses@UCF will analyze all student activity to determine which students have met the federal standard, and that information will be sent to the Office of Student financial aid for processing.

Do I have to use Webcourses@UCF to track students’ academic engagement?

Yes. A team of representatives from across campus, including faculty, staff, and administrators, has explored a wide-range of options for addressing this issue with the least amount of disruption to courses and the least possible imposition on faculty members’ time. After extensive consideration of all options and limitations, this team has determined that the most technically viable solution is for faculty members to use Webcourses@UCF (the university’s learning management system provided by Instructure Canvas) to record this information.

Am I required to track student engagement in my dissertation, thesis, independent study, or research courses?

Yes, because these are credit-bearing courses, students may receive financial aid for enrolling into them; therefore, the university must prove students were actively engaged in the course.

For very small courses, like Independent Study or Dissertation, faculty should consider cross listing those courses to consolidate record keeping. Directions for combining courses can be found on the Webcourses@UCF Semester Checklist. You may use the Attendance/Roll Call tool noting student attendance when the student has made contact with the instructor.

Note: Acceptable contact for satisfying academic engagement in these situations includes face-to-face, email, or phone interaction.

I teach a credit-bearing lab. Am I still required to track student engagement in the lab?

Yes, because the lab is credit-bearing, students may receive financial aid for enrolling in them; therefore, the university must prove students were actively engaged in the course. You will need to track engagement in both the academic course and each credit-bearing lab associated with it.

What about a course with zero credits associated with it (e.g., a zero-credit lab section or a co-curricular non-credit section)? Do I have to track student engagement?

As long as student academic activity is being captured in the associated credit-bearing section (e.g., the 4-credit lecture section associated with the lab), then the non-credit sections do NOT need to have academic engagement tracked.

If lecture and no-credit lab sections are associated, faculty do not need to track attendance in both. If faculty have already captured academic engagement in the lab section instead of the associated lecture section, that is considered satisfactory.

I teach a credit-bearing course that does not meet face-to-face and is not classified as an M or W course. Am I still required to track student engagement in this course?

Yes, because these are credit-bearing courses, students may receive financial aid for enrolling in them; therefore, the university must prove students were actively engaged in the course.

For very small courses, like Independent Study or Dissertation, faculty should consider combining those courses to consolidate record keeping. Directions for combining courses can be found on the Webcourses@UCF Semester Checklist. You may use the Attendance/Roll Call tool noting student attendance when the student has made contact with the instructor (face-to-face, email, or phone).

Do I have to update my syllabus regarding the financial aid requirement?

We recommend you update your syllabus with a statement similar to the following:

All faculty are required to document students’ academic activity at the beginning of each course. In order to document that you began this course, please complete the following academic activity by the end of the first week of classes or as soon as possible after adding the course, but no later than [Insert academic engagement deadline]. Failure to do so may result in a delay in the disbursement of your financial aid.

[Note specific academic activity here]

Where do I receive support for the financial aid requirement?

Karen L. Smith Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (faculty support only)

Online@UCF Support – Provides technical assistance to faculty and students who use Webcourses@UCF.

Resource Links: FCTL Contact Information | Online@UCF Support Contact Information

I have created an assignment to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Can I “mute” the assignment within Webcourses@UCF?

Yes, muted assignments will register as academic activity and will satisfy the financial aid requirement.

I facilitate a non-credit special programs course. Do I have to track student engagement in this course?

No, instructors are not required to track attendance in special program courses.

I have combined my courses in Faculty Webcourse Manager. Do I have to create an assignment in every course section?

No, you can create an assignment in the parent course (noted as CMB within the course title). Students from the corresponding child courses will have access to the assignment.

I have created an assignment to satisfy the financial aid requirement, yet my students have chosen not to complete it. Why have I received notification that my course is not compliant regarding the new financial aid requirement?

The answer to this question can vary based on the assignment type, if the assignment and/or course is published, or the student. For cases such as this, please contact FCTL or Online@UCF Support so they can verify the financial aid assignment in the course and advise accordingly.

Resource Links: FCTL Contact Information | Online@UCF Support Contact Information

I believe I’ve complied with the financial aid requirement; how can I confirm this?

Method 1:

Verify the assignment is listed in the course Gradebook, then open the assignment in the SpeedGrader app. The assignment is compliant if student submissions are present. Each student with a submission will be marked as being actively engaged in your course.

Method 2:

Locate the assignment in the course Gradebook. If the assignment requires no electronic online submission, then scores greater than zero must be present in the grade column. Additionally, ensure that this assignment is not placed in an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade. You can verify this by viewing the students’ total grades (Gradebook column listed as Total).

You can always contact the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning or Online@UCF Support to verify your assignment is compliant with the financial aid requirement.

Resource Links: FCTL Contact Information | Online@UCF Support Contact Information | Canvas Guides – Create an Assignment Shell | Canvas Guides – Assignment Submission Types | Canvas Guides – Additional Assignment Guides

I have complied, but the Office of Financial Aid is telling my students that I have not. What do I tell my students?

Please contact the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning or Online@UCF Support to verify your assignment is compliant with the financial aid requirement. A staff member will advise accordingly once the assignment has been verified as being compliant.

Resource Links: FCTL Contact Information | Online@UCF Support Contact Information

I have created an assignment to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Do I have to “publish” the assignment within Webcourses@UCF?

Yes, all assignments used for tracking student engagement must be published within Webcourses@UCF. Unpublished assignments will not satisfy the financial aid requirement as they are not available to students, nor do they appear in the Gradebook, even if you unpuplish the assignment after assigning grades to it. Note that with the new Canvas “draft state” feature, you may need to publish your assignment both on the assignment creation page and on the Module page, depending upon how your course is structured.

Note: Publishing individual assignments, publishing modules and publishing an entire course within Webcourses@UCF are separate functions.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Using Draft State in Webcourses@UCF | Canvas Guides – Using Draft State

Do I have to “publish” my Webcourses@UCF course to satisfy the financial aid requirement?

This depends on the method you are using to satisfy the financial aid requirement.

Publishing your course is optional if:

  • You are using the Attendance/Roll Call tool to satisfy the financial aid requirement.
  • If you are manually entering grades into the Gradebook for an assignment that requires no electronic online submission. This means the instructor will set the submission type option to On Paper or No submission.
  • You are using a third party clicker or audience response system to satisfy the financial aid requirement.
  • You are using a Scantron assessment graded by the CS&T Test Scoring service to satisfy the financial aid requirement.
  • Students do not need to access any materials, activities, or assignments within Webcourses@UCF.

Publishing your course is required if:

  • You are using an assignment with an electronic submission. This means the instructor will set the submission type option to Online. An electronic submission can be a file upload to the assignment or text input into the assignment.
  • You are using a graded quiz or graded survey to satisfy the financial aid requirement.
  • You are using an Obojobo module or Materia widget.
  • You are using a graded discussion to satisfy the financial aid requirement.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Publishing Your Course | Canvas Guide – Publishing Your Course

I have created an assignment within Webcourses@UCF to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Can I close the assignment after the assignment’s due date?

No, it is recommended you leave the assignment open for at least eight weeks after the due date.

I have created an assignment within Webcourses@UCF to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Can I delete the assignment after the assignment’s due date? I don’t want that particular assignment calculated in my course’s final grades.

It depends. The recommendation is that you do NOT delete your assignment since students can be enrolled into your course late for a variety of reasons and can apply for aid up until almost the end of the semester. In fact, students can actually apply retroactively for aid for a previous term during the current or following term.

If you want to omit the assignment points from the final student grades, the recommendation is to place the Gradebook column into an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade. This should only be done once other assignment submissions and/or grades are present in the Gradebook that can satisfy the financial aid requirement. This strategy will retain the students’ original activity in case there is a later question or challenge.

Resource Links: Online@UCF Support Contact Information | CDL Interactive Tutorial – Assignments | Canvas Guides – Create an Assignment Shell | Canvas Guides – Assignment Submission Types | Canvas Guides – Additional Assignment Guides

I have created a gradable assignment to satisfy the financial aid requirement, but I do not see it in the course’s grade book.

Double check that the assignment has been published. Unpublished assignments will not appear in the Gradebook.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Using Draft State in Webcourses@UCF | Canvas Guides – Using Draft State

Will I satisfy the financial aid requirement if my students participate in Conferences within Webcourses@UCF?

No, academic engagement can only be tracked using assignments in Webcourses@UCF. An assignment in Webcourses@UCF can consist of graded Discussions, Quizzes, and Assignments (used for file submissions and/or manual grade input).

Will I satisfy the financial aid requirement if my students participate in the course using the Collaborations tool within Webcourses@UCF?

No, academic engagement can only be tracked using assignments in Webcourses@UCF. An assignment in Webcourses@UCF can consist of graded Discussions, Quizzes, and Assignments (used for file submissions and/or manual grade input).

Will I satisfy the financial aid requirement if my students participate in the course using the Chat tool within Webcourses@UCF?

No, academic engagement can only be tracked using assignments in Webcourses@UCF. An assignment in Webcourses@UCF can consist of graded Discussions, Quizzes, and Assignments (used for file submissions).

Will adding a link within my content to a Materia Widget or Obojobo modules satisfy the financial aid requirement?

No, Obojobo Modules and Materia Widgets must be added as gradable assignments worth one or more points via Webcourses@UCF Assignments using the “External Tool” submission type and NOT as links within content. Additionally, grades must be submitted by the academic engagement deadline.

Resource Links: Using Materia in Webcourses@UCF | About Materia | About Obojobo

I have confirmed a student’s academic engagement in my course; however, the office of Student Financial Assistance has not yet confirmed this. What should I do?

Please allow up to seven days for the student’s academic engagement assignment to be captured by the Office of Student Financial Assistance. The data is transferred on a weekly basis.

If the student’s engagement has not been verified by the Office of Student Financial Assistance after seven days, please contact FCTL or Online@UCF Support so they can verify the financial aid assignment in the course and advise accordingly.

Resource Links: FCTL Contact Information | Online@UCF Support Contact Information

Assignments Tool within Webcourses@UCF

Can I create a non-gradable assignment in Webcourses@UCF to satisfy the financial aid requirement?

No, an assignment in Webcourses@UCF must be gradable to satisfy the financial aid requirement.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Assignments | Canvas Guides – Create an Assignment Shell | Canvas Guides – Assignment Submission Types | Canvas Guides – Additional Assignment Guides

Can I create a gradable assignment in Webcourses@UCF worth zero points to satisfy the financial aid requirement?

This depends if the assignment requires an electronic submission.

An assignment requiring an electronic submission (e.g., a short essay, an introductory memo, a paper) does not have to be graded in the first week of the semester as long as students submit it by the academic engagement deadline or as soon as possible, if after the deadline. This means the instructor will set the submission type option to Online. This assignment can be worth zero points as the student’s submission will satisfy the financial aid requirement. An electronic submission can be a file uploaded to the assignment or text input into the assignment. This assignment can be placed in an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade.

An Assignment that requires no electronic online submission and requires the instructor to manually enter grades must have one or more points assigned to it within Webcourses@UCF. This means the instructor will set the submission type option to On Paper or No submission. The instructor will have to manually enter grades before the academic engagement deadline or as soon as possible, if after the deadline. This assignment cannot be placed in an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Assignments | Canvas Guides – Create an Assignment Shell | Canvas Guides – Assignment Submission Types | Canvas Guides – Additional Assignment Guides

I teach face-to-face, can I require my students to turn in assignments during class and then update their grades in Webcourses@UCF?

You may create an assignment in Webcourses@UCF and manually enter grades within the Gradebook. The assignment must be worth one or more points and cannot be placed in an assignment group weighted zero percent of the final grade. The instructor will set the submission type option to On Paper or No submission. This assignment must be graded before the academic engagement deadline or as soon as possible, if after the deadline.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Using the Gradebook | Canvas Guides – Create an Assignment Shell | Canvas Guides – Entering Scores into the Gradebook

Can I use a Complete/Incomplete grading scheme for an assignment?

An assignment using an incomplete/complete grading scheme can have zero points associated with it, if an electronic submission is required. This means the instructor will set the submission type option to Online. An electronic submission can be a file uploaded to the assignment or text input into the assignment. This assignment can be graded after academic engagement deadline.

An assignment using an incomplete/complete grading scheme must have one or more points associated with it, if an electronic submission is not required. This means the instructor will set the submission type to On Paper or No submission. The instructor will have to manually enter grades before the academic engagement deadline or as soon as possible, if after the deadline.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Create an Assignment Shell

I have created an assignment to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Do I have to “publish” the assignment within Webcourses@UCF?

Yes, all assignments used for tracking student engagement must be published within Webcourses@UCF. Unpublished assignments will not satisfy the financial aid requirement. With the new Canvas “draft state” feature, you may need to publish your assignment both on the assignment creation page and on the Module page, depending upon how your course is structured.

Note: Publishing individual assignments, publishing modules and publishing an entire course within Webcourses@UCF are separate functions.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Using Draft State in Webcourses@UCF | Canvas Guides – Using Draft State

Discussions Tool within Webcourses@UCF

Can I create a non-gradable discussion in my course to satisfy the financial aid requirement?

No, discussion must be graded. You may create a gradable discussion worth zero points as the students’ submissions will satisfy the financial aid requirement.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Start a Discussion | Canvas Guides – Setting up a Graded Discussion

I want to create a discussion topic for my students, but I don’t want it to affect their final grade. Can I create a gradable discussion and configure it to be worth zero points?

Yes, a graded discussion worth zero points will satisfy the financial aid requirement. Remember a student submission/posting will satisfy the financial aid requirement.

You can also create a graded discussion worth one or more points and place it in an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade. Remember, a student submission/posting will satisfy the financial aid requirement.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Additional Discussion Guides

I have created a discussion to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Do I have to “publish” the discussion within Webcourses@UCF?

Yes, all discussion used for tracking student engagement must be published within Webcourses@UCF. Unpublished discussions will not satisfy the financial aid requirement. With the new Canvas “draft state” feature, you may need to publish your assignment both on the assignment creation page and on the Module page, depending upon how your course is structured.

Note: Publishing individual assignments, publishing modules and publishing an entire course within Webcourses@UCF are separate functions.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Using Draft State in Webcourses@UCF | Canvas Guides – Using Draft State in Discussions

Quizzes/Surveys Tool within Webcourses@UCF

Will creating an ungraded survey satisfy the financial aid requirement?

No, surveys must be graded. Anonymous surveys may not be used for tracking academic engagement since submissions are not associated with any individual students.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Creating a Survey | Canvas Guides – Types of Quizzes

Will creating a practice quiz satisfy the financial aid requirement?

No, practice quizzes will not satisfy the financial aid requirement. The particular quiz type Practice Quiz within Webcourses@UCF does not create a Gradebook entry and therefore will not work for capturing academic activity.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Creating a Quiz | Canvas Guides – Types of Quizzes

Will the financial aid requirement be satisfied if I create a graded quiz worth zero points?

Yes, you can create a graded quiz worth zero points. Remember, the university can prove student engagement from the students’ submission of the quiz.

You may also place the quiz in an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Creating a Quiz | Canvas Guides – Types of Quizzes

I have created a quiz to satisfy the financial aid requirement. Do I have to “publish” the quiz within Webcourses@UCF?

Yes, all quizzes used for tracking student engagement must be published within Webcourses@UCF. Unpublished quizzes will not satisfy the financial aid requirement.

With the new Canvas “draft state” feature, you may need to publish your assignment both on the assignment creation page and on the Module page, depending upon how your course is structured.

Note: Publishing individual assignments, publishing modules and publishing an entire course within Webcourses@UCF are separate functions.

Resource Links: CDL Interactive Tutorial – Using Draft State in Webcourses@UCF | Canvas Guides – Using Draft State in Quizzes

Attendance/Roll Call Tool within Webcourses@UCF

Can I track student engagement using the Attendance/Roll Call tool?

Yes, you can track student engagement using the Attendance/Roll Call tool built into Webcourses@UCF. Attendance should be recorded for each student from the first day of class until all students have been verified. Remember student enrollment may change after Add/Drop.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Attendance/Roll Call tool

I would like to use the Attendance/Roll Call tool, but I would like to set the assignment to zero points. Will this satisfy the financial aid requirement?

No, an attendance assignment must be worth one or more points, because no student submissions are present in Webcourses@UCF.

You cannot place the attendance assignment in an assignment group weighted at zero percent of the final grade.

Resource Links: Canvas Guides – Attendance/Roll Call tool

I teach face-to-face. Do I have to take attendance every class?

No, you only need to take attendance until every student has been present for at least one class session. After each student has been accounted for you may continue to take attendance every class session, but it is no longer required to satisfy the financial aid requirement.

Please note, you will need to take attendance after the Add/Drop deadline, as it may be possible new students have been enrolled into your class.

Resource Links: Canvas Guide – Taking Attendance in Canvas | Canvas Guides – Attendance/Roll Call tool | UCF Academic Calendar