Beginning of the Semester Considerations

Helping students have a successful start to your course begins with some key considerations before the semester begins. These considerations include:

  • How will you complete the required commenced attendance at the beginning of the semester?
  • When will I publish my course and/or allow students to access content?
  • How will I meet the U.S. Department of Education’s Regular & Substantive Interactions regulation?
  • Publishing Quizzes

The U.S. Department of Education requires universities to record the first and last dates of every student's attendance.  The last date of attendance is recorded via our grade reporting system.  The first date of attendance can be verified by either of the following two methods:

  1. Instructors verify attendance in the photo roster of each course found in MySUUPortal.  If instructors choose to use this method, we encourage you to verify attendance on the first day of class, and also verify attendance of students who join the class at a later date.
  2. Students' attendance will be automatically verified if they submit any Canvas quiz or assignment.  The Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI) will import an attendance quiz into every Canvas shell.  This quiz will work, and any other quiz or assignment will also work.

Instructors are welcome to choose whether they use the Canvas attendance quiz, a different Canvas quiz or Canvas assignment, or the photo roster in MySUUPortal.

Key Commenced Attendance Dates for 2023-2024


Commenced Attendance Date

Fall 2023 Full Session

September 6, 2023

Fall 2023 1st Session

September 6, 2023

Fall 2023 2nd Session

October 20, 2023

Spring 2024 Full Session

January 16, 2024

Spring 2024 1st Session

January 12, 2024

Spring 2024 2nd Session

March 8, 2024

Summer 2024 Full Session

May 22, 2024

Summer 2024 1st Session

May 19, 2024

Summer 2024 2nd Session

July 10, 2024


Some courses may not formally meet during the first week of class, such as internships, undergraduate research, rehearsals, field trips, special seminars, independent studies, etc. Please reach out to your students in these courses and encourage them to complete the Canvas quiz during the first week of class so their financial aid is not impacted.

If faculty have questions, please direct your question to Assistant Provost, Camille Thomas.

If you are utilizing Canvas for your course, ensuring that the course is published on the first day of class is important. This is especially true of online courses in the 7-week format. Publishing the course allows your students to review materials, complete the commenced attendance quiz, and plan for the semester. Below are links to tutorials on how to publish your Canvas courses.

Publishing Courses FAQs

  1. Can I open a course early?
    1. Yes! You can open a course as early as you’d like. However, you cannot require students to complete assignments or activities prior to the official first day of class. Here is a guide on how to adjust the start date.
  2. If I publish my course prior to the start date, when can students see the content?
    1. Student’s will not be able to see the content of a published course until the start date listed in the course Settings.
  3. Can I publish the course but unpublish some content?
    1. Yes! When you publish the course, it will publish any content you have selected as published. You can keep some content (e.g. Final Exam) unpublished until you are ready to publish it. See the tutorials above for more information about how to publish/unpublish specific content or entire modules.
  4. Do all courses at SUU have a Canvas course?
    1. At SUU, all courses are issued a Canvas shell that can be used to provide content, submit assignments, etc. It is required that online courses utilize the Canvas shell for learning activities. However, face-to-face courses can choose to utilize the Canvas shell if desired.

In July 2021, the Department of Education indicated that online courses must have at least two (2) instances of Regular & Substantive Interactions (RSI) initiated by the instructor.  While this is a regulation from the Department of Education, it is also a best practice of effective teaching. Decades of research have established that teacher-learner interactions are an essential component of learning in all modalities. As a result, instructors are encouraged to formulate a plan to meet this RSI regulation. Some instances of RSI include:

  • Clearly schedule office hours with ways students can join those office hours (“By appointment only” is not sufficient to meet this regulation).
  • Discussions on a weekly or every-other week basis
  • A course Q&A discussion
  • Optional Zoom meetings
  • Backchannel communications such as a Slack channel

There are many other methods you can use to meet this regulation. The key to meeting this regulation is that the interaction must be initiated by the instructor, be about the course content, and on a predictable schedule. 

During the 2nd week of each session, The Center for Teaching Innovation conducts an internal audit that reviews the accessibility and RSI methods in all online courses. These results are shared with deans and department chairs to follow-up with SUU’s faculty members. 

Learn More About Meeting the Regular & Substantive Interactions Regulation


The Center for Teaching Innovation