Participation & Substantive Interaction

Grantham University is committed to ensuring students take personal responsibility for achieving the learning objectives outlined within each course. To assist students in meeting that goal, the University requires students to participate by regularly logging into their course(s), substantively interacting with fellow students and instructors through group discussions and submitting all coursework by the weekly due date.


The learning management system used by Grantham University is based on Central Time. All submitted assignments are time-stamped date. Anything submitted after this is considered late. Students should carefully review each course syllabus for the late policy. Technology, server, computer, human error or internet problems are not valid excuses for turning an assignment in late. If students have questions, they should ask the instructor prior to the assignment due date. Extenuating circumstances may be, but do not have to be, considered by the instructor on a case-by-case basis.

Students prevented from submitting the work required for an assignment by the due date specified may, at the discretion of the instructor, be allowed to submit the assignment at a later date without penalty. The instructor’s permission must be requested prior to the due date specified for the assignment in question.

Students submitting work for course assignments after the due date specified in the course schedule within the LMS are subject to penalties up to but not exceeding 5% of the points possible for the assignment in question per day (i.e. for each day passing between the due date and the date the submission is posted to the assignment within the LMS) at the discretion of the instructor of record for the course in question. For example, submissions posted after the due date, but within 24 hours of the date the assignment is due, may be penalized by up to 5% of the potential value of the assignment; submissions posted between 24 and 48 hours after the due date may be penalized by up to 10%, etc.

This policy does not supersede the University’s existing Incomplete or Substantive Interaction policy. Students have only until the last day of the course to submit work required for the course in question unless they have previously requested and has been granted an extension of the time allowed to complete the course and temporary grade of incomplete by the instructor.


Substantive interaction involves a sustained, interactive communication usually of three or more academically appropriate posts to the course Discussion Forum, consisting of one initial post and two posts to fellow students and/or the course instructor of equally substantive value, corresponding to the requirements prescribed in each course. It is a written answer to a discussion question / response that contains a central idea, independent response or personal opinion that is presented or communicated in a meaningful way. The purpose of substantive interaction on the Discussion Forum is to promote understanding of a topic and its relevant themes to all participants. The posts are, therefore, a collective conversation of linked words, phrases and ideas.

Although using the American Psychological Association style guide is not required for paraphrasing another’s work, proper acknowledgment of the source is required; APA style is required for direct quotes. The usual length is 75 to 150 words. Word count requirements may be dependent on the topic, assignment instructions or level of the course. It is a student’s responsibility to be familiar with the requirements of a course.

Students are encouraged to begin substantively interacting with classmates and/or the instructor using the Discussion Forum as soon as possible during each week of the term. Substantive interaction promotes a deeper understanding of the topics and themes discussed in courses, which will enrich the educational experience. In addition, it opens up the lines of communication with fellow classmates and instructors.


During Week 1, students are required to establish participation* by logging into each course within seven calendar days of the term start date and either submitting a Week 1 assignment or posting an initial** post in the Week 1 Discussion Forum. This requires a minimum of 75 words or conducting a substantive course content-specific dialogue with the instructor in “Ask the Instructor.” Students who have logged into the course(s) within the first seven calendar days of the term start date, but failed to substantively interact, will be administratively canceled from the course(s). Substantive interaction is measured on a course-by-course basis. Therefore, substantive interaction in one course has no impact on substantive interaction in other course(s). Appeals to be reinstated are not permitted unless a system error occurred. Individual instructor course policies or exceptions do not supersede the University policy.
* Minimum requirements to stay enrolled. The Week 1 course requirements may include more assignments than listed here for full award of weekly points. Please see course syllabus for all assignments and due dates.
** The initial post is typically not the only required post of the week for full credit; however, the initial post or submission of a Week 1 assignment will prevent an administrative drop at the conclusion of Week 1. Please see course syllabus for all assignments.


Beginning in Week 2 and throughout the remainder of the course, participation and substantive interaction will be tracked using the tools within the LMS. Throughout the term, students must participate in such a way as to ensure successful completion of the course by the end of the term (i.e., regularly submit assignments by the designated due date and continue to substantively interact with other students and the course instructor), abiding by the participation and substantive interaction requirement outlined in each course syllabus. Students who do not turn in an assignment or substantively interact for a 14-day consecutive calendar period will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of W recorded on the student’s academic transcript.

Course acceleration is not permitted. Submitting work prior to its due date (accelerating) and going inactive for 14 calendar days is still lack of interaction in the course and an administrative withdrawal will be initiated. This will result in a grade of W recorded on the student’s academic transcript.

Although a 14-day consecutive calendar period of inactivity will result in an administrative withdrawal, a faculty member may withdraw a student at any time if the student’s participation or lack thereof merits a withdrawal. The decision by the faculty member to withdraw a student includes students who only participate in the discussion forums and who fail to submit written assignments, quizzes/exams, labs and/or projects, as this does not meet the rigor set forth in the course that would enable the course learning objectives to be met. Additionally, bulk assignment submission after periods of inactivity may not be accepted for grading per the late policy; this does not reflect academic engagement.

A student’s last date of attendance / activity is defined as the latest submission date. Submissions that meet the definition of participation and substantive interaction are those in which an official, calculated score appears in the LMS grade book; the score comprised a percentage of the overall, final grade. The following are examples of recorded activity in the LMS:

  • Written Assignments, Tests, Exams, Labs, Final Projects and Portfolios
  • Initial Discussion Post (totaling 75-150 words)
  • Replies to Discussion Posts (responses to fellow students’ posts)

Completing course work designated as “optional” or “practice” does not qualify and is not counted toward satisfying University policy on substantive interaction. Students who choose to complete “optional” or “practice” assignments, but fail to submit graded course work which would result in a percentage of the overall final grade, will be withdrawn.

Some courses have a safety exam which must be passed (multiple attempts are allowed) prior to the openings of further course material. Students who fail to pass the exam and, thus, are not able to participate in the course for 14 days will be withdrawn.

Reinstatements will not be considered unless a University systems error was made or a documented military obligation is approved in accordance with The Statement of Academic Purpose in Section 2.12. Tuition will be refunded per the Institutional Refund Policy published in Section 2.11 of the Student Handbook.*

* It is the responsibility of the student to know the Participation and Substantive Interaction Policy. This is located in the Student Handbook and course syllabi.