Quality Matters

What is Quality Matters?

Quality Matters (QM) is an international organization that is recognized as a leader in quality assurance for online education.

The impact of Quality Matters on certified courses is undeniable. Course review results in better course design, which makes navigation easier for students, reduces barriers to student achievement, and results in better outcomes.

QM’s Mission

Promote and improve the quality of online education and student learning nationally and internationally through:

  • Development of current, research-supported, and practice-based quality standards and appropriate evaluation tools and procedures.

  • Recognition of expertise in online education quality assurance and evaluation.

  • Fostering a culture of continuous improvement by integrating QM standards and processes into organizational plans to improve the quality of online education.

  • Providing professional development in the use of rubrics, tools and practices to improve the quality of online education.

  • Peer review and certification of quality in online education.

 The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences is committed to implement the Quality Matters Standards for the design of online and blended courses, and we are systematically building and evaluating our courses based on these rigorous, research-based standards. The Quality Matters Standards assure that the online components of these courses promote learner engagement and provide students with all the tools and information they need to be successful learners. More information regarding Quality Matters please visit www.qualitymatters.org

Success Stories

The following courses have successfully completed the rigorous peer review process, which ensures quality course design and professional development for the associated course representatives. This process has also informed iterative improvements to our College Blackboard template.

The peer-review process is both meaningful and impactful. We have invited each course representative to discuss their experiences and growth through the process. See the stories below.

Debra Zevallos, MHA, FACHE

Preparing my BUSM 201 Principles of Management course for a Quality Matters review helped me grow as a Program Director and Professor in Higher Education. The rigorous and rewarding peer-review allowed me to see my course through the eyes of other professionals and make key improvements that I know our students will benefit from. The comprehensive rubric allowed me to critically examine the course from many different angles, including content, layout, relationships between assignments and learning outcomes, and general clarity of instructions and availability of resources to make sure nothing is missed. It provides an excellent road map for course development and revision and I look forward to continuing the process with additional courses in the HCA program. Quality Matters is exactly the type of tool we need to ensure our courses are meeting the high standards that online learning demands to provide the best education and service to our students.

Tammy Waldron, M.Ed

I was introduced to Quality Matters, QM, at the beginning of my Higher Education online teaching career, 2012. It was instrumental in my transition to online teaching, but also greatly informed and improved upon my face-to-face teaching. What I like the most about QM is that iterative growth and development is fundamental to what they do. Secondly, they are grounded in best practices and research. And third, collegiality and community are at the heart of QM. The Ohio Consortium is the largest consortium in the nation (and the world). It is great to be a part of a group of like-minded faculty who strive for quality and innovation in their practice and are eager to share, support, and encourage their fellow members. My work and development are supported and encouraged in our consortium. I am a strong advocate for QM and invite you to participate in any way you can.

Preparing a course for an official QM peer review was tedious and extremely rewarding. It was gratifying to receive kudos from the subject matter expert and certified peer review team. They provided descriptive helpful feedback that was meaningful and constructive. The course improved through this process and I did as well.

Rob Kallmeyer, PhD

I’ve been teaching college psychology, philosophy, and statistics courses for 17 years, 8.5 of those years at TCC. These are the experiences that have improved my teaching the most:

  1. Time in front of students: You must teach and cycle through trying it, reflecting, and trying to do it better. Experience makes us great teachers.
  2. Other faculty: Every professor does something interesting or innovative that I can learn from.
  3. Faculty Development events and conferences: When you put passionate educators together in a room, amazing ideas always come out.
  4. And now, the newest on the list: Quality Matters.

Quality Matters, a rubric-guided process for designing and reviewing online courses, gave me the checklist I think we all want and a review process that we probably all need. Is the course well organized? Do students know where to start? Do assignments align with module learning outcomes which align with course learning outcomes? Is there a technology policy? The standards are specific enough to provide guidance and structure, but general enough to work with your creative style. The review comes from professionally trained reviewers. This isn’t rubber stamping. This is a thorough, deep, honest review. So, reviewers give the kind of specific, constructive feedback that results in a more clear, organized, and aligned course.

Preparing my PSY 110: Lifespan Development course for a Quality Matters review was the kind of deep work that helps me grow as a professor. Because the rubric is based on standards, I knew the specific goals I was aiming for. The process required lots of work but it wasn’t frustrating. I clarified instructions, improved alignment, added important pieces of information I had overlooked, standardized some language and colors to clarify the design, and even removed some pieces that I realized were unnecessary and cluttering the students’ progress. From my experience, Quality Matters is the kind of essential reflection, best-practices, and review from expert educators that truly improves teaching and learning. This Lifespan Development course now provides a better learning experience at TCC and I have a more clear and organized way of approaching online course design. Note: PSY 110 (2018-03-13) received a perfect Quality Matters score.

Meghan Hollowell, Ed.D

When it came time for COM 110 to be evaluated by Quality Matters reviewers external to the College, I felt pretty prepared. I had worked closely with Tammy to design the course and get it ready for review, and I had taken two Quality Matters courses to familiarize (and re-familiarize) myself with the QM Rubric standards. Regardless of these preparations, I did naturally feel a little nervous about exposing myself to the potential for failure—I’d never shown my course to colleagues outside of TCC before, and I knew one of those colleagues would be an expert in the (Communication) field. I felt intimidated and therefore second-guessed my work a bit. I wondered if perhaps the course was too easy, or too limited in its scope—but I forged ahead, regardless (with Tammy’s positivity and support). And I’m so glad I did! The reviewers validated my efforts to make the course a fantastic one by pointing out what they admired most and what they found to be particularly engaging and effective. Expectedly, the reviewers also provided concrete feedback about the ways the course might be improved. All feedback was collegial, respectful, thorough, and thoughtful. The course didn’t initially meet all of the QM Rubric’s standards, and that was humbling. The course fell flat in the area of accessibility, in particular. (Going into the review, I knew accessibility was important and would need some strengthening, and I actually encouraged the reviewers to let me know how it could be improved.) Making the course more accessible took a lot of time-consuming work, but it was worth it to know that the course now provides more equitable opportunities for success–providing each student with the ability to access course content regardless of learning styles, preferences, abilities, etc. I feel proud of every change that I made to the course as a result of the review, actually. It’s gratifying to make improvements and know that students are going to reap the benefits.

I would recommend the QM review process to anyone. Even those teaching face-to-face courses have something to learn from the QM Rubric. (In fact, I don’t think I was even teaching online yet when I first took the QM course.) The preparation for review was a great learning experience, and the process was easy—Tammy and the QM Lead Reviewer let me know what to expect each step of the way. I was encouraged to share my thoughts, feelings, and concerns, and the communication throughout the process was always open and honest. I never felt that I was under fire. I felt supported. I would advise others moving through this same process to be open, and embrace an opportunity to learn and grow!

Nancy Trokan-Mathison DNP, RN

We have 8 Online Nursing Courses in our RN-BSN Program. The RN-BSN Nursing courses were originally designed in 2013 in collaboration with an outside course design firm with an understanding of Quality Matters Standards. There are 1-6 sections of each course offered per semester. I examine and update each of these Nursing DEV courses based on RN-BSN faculty comments about content and design, and their experiences with students.

Tammy Waldron our lead instructional designer contacted me in October 2017 about the upcoming Quality Matters Peer Review process. NUR435 was chosen. I updated the NUR435 as best I could and it was copied for the QM reviewers. Results of the QM Review were made available in late December. The report was 21 pages long, with recommendations made for all 21 QM Standards. The course scored 87 points and failed to meet some ‘essential’ standards. Initially, I felt ‘devastated’, but thank God for Tammy!!! She sifted through the QM Report, using her expertise and separated the report into ‘Must Do’ and ‘Nice-to-Do’ items. Her work saved me ‘hours’ and ‘hours’ of determining what needed to be done. Tammy explained that there were really only a few ‘must-do’ items. I quickly realized that the reviewers had many more positive comments than negative ones. Based on reviewer feedback, Tammy added Tech Requirements, Netiquette, and the Privacy Policy to the course. We added the course learning outcomes to the home page. I aligned course learning outcomes to every Module (this is something that should have been done much sooner!) On February 12, we submitted the revised course for a second review and received an email the same day stating the course now met QM Standards – YEAH!!!

The lead reviewer, Dr. Reams, was especially helpful in her comments. While some of the recommendations will not be implemented, some of the recommendations are being conveyed to course faculty (e.g., grade assignments within a week of submission and give students feedback early and often). A recommendation about re-examining the level of learning outcome in light of where the course sits in the curriculum is also great food-for-thought. Learning outcomes are being ‘upgraded’ in all courses.

QM adds tremendous value to our online program and I am very, very grateful to Tammy for sharing her expertise. Her work contributes greatly to student achievement of BSN-level competency.

Melanie Raby, Ed.D.

I was first introduced to Quality Matters (QM) when I completed the rubric training in 2014. I learned so much in that first training about how to design a course that promotes student learning and immediately wanted to incorporate the best practices that were shared into my own courses. I also decided I wanted to become a QM-Certified Peer Reviewer, so I signed up for the certification course later that year. This course emphasized the importance of writing helpful recommendations when you review a course, which is beneficial for internal or external reviews. A practice review was included in the course to allow me to use my new reviewer skills.

In 2017, I went with Tammy to the Quality Matters Annual Member Meeting Conference. At the conference, I learned the latest revisions QM had done to their tools and resources to reflect best practices and current research. In addition, I was able to talk with others about how they were incorporating QM at their colleges. After this conference, I knew my courses were ready to go through the rigorous review process. I am happy to say that I submitted STAT 201 for review the first week of November and it passed with a perfect score!

As I reflect on the review process, I realize it was not scary or intimidating at all. My review team was amazing and made sure my first review was a positive learning experience. The feedback I received from them in the final report was 29 pages long! I am excited to take the recommendations that they took the time to write to make the course even better. If you haven’t already you should take the time to learn more about QM and incorporate the tools and resources into your own courses.

Alyssa Ryan, MA

I must admit, I was nervous going into the QM Review Process. While I had gained a lot from my experiences in previous workshops for applying the QM rubric to online teaching, I was nervous about those items translating in a review of a course that I had designed – ENG101 ONL. Prior to initiating the QM Review process, I completed a review of the updates to the QM Rubric and met with Tammy Waldron to discuss common items I could keep an eye out for.

At this time, Tammy also recommended that I complete a Module Overview, which reviewed the Course Learning Outcomes, Module Learning Outcomes, Assignments, and any other notable items. I found creating this document an invaluable experience. The Module Overview not only prepared me for completing the documents required for the QM Review but it helped me to revise a number of the Module Learning Outcomes to feature stronger verbs and more measurable items – both of which have strengthened the course’s alignment.

Tammy and Dana were supportive and encouraging every step of the way, especially when a technical error resulted in the initial “not met” status of two Essential Standards. Tammy was especially encouraging as I revised the course and completed the amendment paperwork. Once the technical error was corrected and a rationale provided for one recommended change, the course was quickly re-evaluated and easily met the QM Standards with flying colors! I’m still surprised by how much I have learned throughout the QM Review Process!