Quality Matters Frequently Asked Questions

This is a listing of questions asked by faculty members regarding Quality Matters and Ashland University's involvement.

What is Quality Matters (QM)?

QM is a set of standards and a peer review process that Ashland University has adopted to ensure quality in the design of its online and hybrid courses.

When did QM start?

QM started in 2003 as a Fund for the Improvement of Post-secondary Education (FIPSE) grant to Maryland Online, Inc.

Who else uses QM?

Over 400 institutions nationwide use QM to certify the quality of their online courses. Ashland University is one of the 43 institutions in Ohio that subscribes to QM through the Ohio Consortium.

Does QM replace student course evaluations?

No, QM is not a student evaluation of the faculty member's delivery of the course. It is a peer evaluation of the design (not the content) of the course.

What are the standards?

There are eight general standards and 40 specific standards. The eight general standards are

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Resources and Materials
  5. Learner Engagement
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility

17 of the 40 specific standards are considered "essential," which means that without these standards a course cannot be considered a quality course.

Where do these standards come from?

The standards are based on the principles of instructional design, research literature and best practices.

Do I have to meet all of the standards in order to meet expectations?

No, courses do not have to be "perfect" in that they meet every single standard. However, courses do need to meet all 17 of the essential standards and earn a minimum of 72 out of 85 points (85%) in order to meet expectations.

How does a course earn these points?

Each peer reviewer on the team examines the course for evidence that a standard is either met or not met. If two out of the three reviewers determine that the standard is met, the course will receive all the points for that standard. If two out of the three reviewers determine that the standard is not met, the course will receive zero points for that standard. There are no partial points.

What happens if a course does not meet expectations?

The QM process is designed so that all courses will eventually meet expectations. If a course does not meet expectations upon initial review, the faculty course developer receives detailed feedback from the team and has the opportunity to revise the course with the help of ITLM. The revised course is then submitted to the team chair for approval.

If a course does not meet expectations, can it still be taught?

The department chair, the dean and the provost will have the authority to determine any additional institutional recommendations or consequences for courses that continue to not meet expectations.

Who is on the team that reviews my course?

The peer review team consists of three members: a master reviewer/team chair, a subject matter expert and an external reviewer. Each peer reviewer has online teaching experience and has been trained and certified by QM to conduct reviews.

What is the difference between a master reviewer and a peer reviewer?

A master reviewer is a peer reviewer who has served on at least two course reviews and has completed additional training. As team chair, the master reviewer is responsible for coordinating the review process.

Why is there a subject matter expert on the team?

The subject matter expert is on the team to provide a subject matter perspective on the design of the course. The subject matter expert is not there to review what is being taught; he or she is there to provide a subject matter expert's view of the course and to answer any questions the other peer reviewers might have.

Why aren't all the peer reviewers on the team subject matter experts?

While QM peer reviewers are faculty members, they are trained to approach the course being reviewed as a student would. In many cases, the students in our courses are non-majors who know little or nothing about the subject matter. Having non-subject matter experts on the team provides this perspective on the course.

How long does the peer review process last?

Per QM requirements, the entire review process may take place over a maximum period of 20 weeks. However, it usually takes the peer review team about three weeks to conduct the actual review of the course.

What are my responsibilities during the review?

As the faculty course developer, you will complete the Instructor Worksheet, a document that describes your course for the peer review team and which you will discuss with them during a pre-review conference call. After the review has been conducted, you will complete a Faculty Response Form. If the course does not yet meet expectations, you may make revisions and submit the revised course along with the Course Amendment Form.

Will the review take place in my live course?

No, the review will take place in a copy of the course so that reviewers do not have access to any student data.

How will the reviewers access my course?

ITLM will create guest accounts for the reviewers to log into ANGEL and access the course review site.

If more than one faculty member teaches the same course, do both courses have to be reviewed?

Courses in the same academic unit with more than one section being taught by more than one instructor will not need to be reviewed separately as long as the course is copied without modification across the sections. In this case, the designer of the original course will participate in the review.