Have clear communications and expectations

Core pedagogical principle #3

What does this principle mean?

It has always been important to provide clear communications to student so that they know what to do, when to do it, and who and where to ask if they need help. The need to communicate regularly and consistently is even greater with remote teaching especially in times of stress or isolation. Regular, personalised and friendly communication can also ensure that each student knows that they matter.

Part of this is setting high expectations for all students that are responsiveness to their individual goals. Consider what you believe it looks like to be a “good student” and how much this reflects your own cultural background. Ensure expectations are uniformly high but are also inclusive, encouraging all to strive for the highest outcomes and do not inadvertently stifle students from other backgrounds.


  • At the start of the semester, send a welcome announcement
    • If you can, include a video that shows students how to navigate your unit’s Canvas site and where they would find things; this especially helps first year students – see an example (bottom of the page, video on the left)
  • Send regular, friendly announcements e.g. that summarise the past week and prepare students for next week
  • Include clear instructions on Canvas explaining what students need to do, when they should do it by (e.g. provide timing guides for how long activities might take and their sequencing), and why they should do it – ensure they know the sequence of tasks
  • Ensure dates and names of assessments and learning/teaching activities are consistent
  • Try not to duplicate information on different pages or in different systems – have a source of truth
  • Guide students to create a set of classroom expectations together, such as use of first names, how to ask questions and turning the video on and off in Zoom classes


  • Provide regular, proactive, and tailored reminders that emphasise care and compassion
  • Organise learning, teaching, assessment and feedback activities in a consistent and coherent way and provide required sources ahead of class
  • When organising activities for synchronous classes, be explicit about their length and provide updates to students, including those in breakout rooms
  • Provide resources and short activities to help students prepare for class and consider low or zero value assessments with personalised feedback to encourage completion
  • Ask students to prepare for class by considering a problem that you hope they’ll be able to solve/address by the end of the class
  • Set expectations, protocols and expected etiquette around communications including those in class
  • Consider using a time management activity