Master of Arts

Student Success

Synchronous Sessions and Creating Community in Digital Spaces

The Literacy Studies faculty uses synchronous online sessions to increase instructor presence and to create a community of learners. We also use other social learning structures that support student learning such as small and whole group discussions, coaching, interactive presentations, guided web tours, document sharing and formative assessment through polling and other tools. 

Although our courses are online, each course is assigned a particular day and time for synchronous sessions. Students receive advanced notification of the days and times of these required sessions during the registration process (via Oasis). Professors require full participation from each student in order to capitalize on multiple perspectives and to enhance the organic learning opportunities afforded through discussion of course-related ideas and themes. Specific details vary for each course and the instructor’s expectations are fully explained during the course orientation. 


Given the online status of the Masters program, it may seem impractical to receive mentoring and support; but the faculty are committed to student success. Students may communicate with the program coordinator, faculty, and the program specialist whenever necessary. If students prefer to meet in person, they may set up an appointment. If students would like to chat after class, they can ask the faculty instructor to remain online within the synchronous session. 

Digital Literacies

In addition to the USF Help Desk, the College of Education provides additional support for technology use and digital literacy integration through the TIM Tools, the iTeach Lounge and the Florida Center for Instructional Technology.

  • The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM)
    The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) provides a framework for describing and targeting the use of technology to enhance learning. The TIM is designed to assist schools, districts, and states in evaluating the level of technology integration in classrooms and to provide teachers with models of how technology can be integrated into instruction in meaningful ways.

  • iTeach Lounge 
    The iteach Lounge is located in EDU 252 (813.974.6816). The iteach Lounge is an open access lab where students can work independently. In addition, the lounge may be reserved for classes. The lounge staff provide instructional technology support to all students and faculty. They offer workshops that are open to all students. You can also reach the iTeach Lounge by Skype (FCIT Laptop Lounge).

  • Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) 
    The Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) is located in the College of Education, EDU 147. FCIT is funded by the Florida Department of Education, school districts, educational foundations and others. FCIT provides leadership, instructional materials, and support services to educational institutions in Florida and beyond. FCIT offers free resources such as lesson plans, clip art, audiobooks, subject guides across the curriculum, multicultural resources, FCAT resources, Powerpoint/Keynote templates, and much more.

Critical Tasks and Student Success

Throughout the program, faculty identified a series of Critical Tasks that document student learning in the context of selected courses. Faculty created a series of course assignments that best document student performance and that are critical in documenting student learning outcomes relevant to the course content. Each of the critical tasks is tied to the State of Florida reading standards and students must demonstrate mastery on these critical tasks.

Upon completion of course assignments, students submit those assignments marked as “critical tasks” to an external assessment system called CampusFolio. Within the system, the professor transfers her or his evaluation of the assignment and indicates if the student met the standards and competencies for success. In other words, the instructor assesses the assignment in the context of the course and then she or he transfers the evaluation into the accountability system. The criteria for success do not change as faculty believe assessment is best used within the instructional context. The CampusFolio system does not connect to Canvas (our Learning Management System); therefore, students and faculty must manually transfer the assignments and the assessments.

The USF College of Education uses student performance data to determine if individual students have met State of Florida requirements. The USF College of Education uses aggregate student data to determine learning trends. These forms of internal and external assessment and data analysis are intended to document student performance and subsequently improve K-12 learner outcomes. Further discussions of the critical tasks and the CampusFolio procedures will occur in the relevant courses. In addition, the benefits and constraints of high-stakes accountability practices and the impact on literacy teaching and learning will be discussed and critiqued in the context of each course.