Frequency and Type of Instructor Interactions in Online Instruction

Gayle V. Davidson-Shivers
University of South Alabama


Concerns for faculty time spent in online instruction are replete in the literature; some authors suggest that online instruction increases faculty work. In a specific rather than global manner, this case study focused on the frequency and types of instructor-to-student interactions that occurred in a graduate online course. Using archival records, interactions were classified by communication tool, message content, and recipient, and then tallied. Most instructor-student interactions occurred through the LMS gradebook, followed by emails. Most communications were related to course assignments and sent to individual students. The overall total of interactions was comparable to other findings and may suggest that online teaching, at least in this case, increased faculty work. This may be due, in part, to the individualized nature of the instructor-student interactions. Further study is recommended.

About the Author(s)...

Gayle V. Davidson-Shivers, Ph.D. is a professor at the University of South Alabama in the Instructional Design and Development program. She is also program coordinator for the educational foundations area in the Professional Studies department. Her interests relate to instructional design, individual differences, and instructional strategies in online learning environments. She has co-authored several journal articles on gender and online discussions and recently co-authored the book, Web-based learning: Design, implementation, and evaluation. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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