Most degree programs include attendance and participation components for the learner to demonstrate acceptable academic progress. Attendance shows that the learner is involved and may or may not be a graded activity. Participation, on the other hand, is normally graded.
The author has pursued degrees from three different online universities and each of those universities requirements are reflected here.
The University of Phoenix weights participation from 25 to 50 percent of the final grade depending on the facilitator. Learners must participate in course-room activities by answering discussion questions and responding to the answers of other learners. The participation requirements may vary by institution and by degree level.
The Bachelor’s programs at the University of Phoenix require learners to answer from three to five discussion questions per week. The word count may vary by facilitator but typical answers must contain from 300 to 500 words. Learners must respond to the answers of four other learners and the responses must normally contain a minimum of 300 words.
Facilitators also vary the requirement to use references and citations. Some facilitators require using references and citations, and some do not. When in-text citations are required, the learner must typically provide three to five of each.
On line institutions somewhat lower the participation requirements at the graduate level. Capella University requires learners to answer one to two discussion questions per week and respond to the answers of two other learners. There were few word-count requirements for answers or responses and the response requirements varied from class to class.
The PhD program at Northcentral University does not include discussion questions as a participation requirement. Typical classes at the PhD level include one learner. The learner is assigned a mentor for each class and the mentor guides the learner through the course learning objectives. The PhD program is highly project driven.