Quality Matters

Quality Matters Standards and Rubric


As part of the continuous effort to improve the quality of online courses, Madison College subscribed to the Quality Matters program in fall of 2013. Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses.  Quality Matters uses a rubric-based approach to categorize and highlight online course design standards.

QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning. Community and technical colleges, colleges and universities, K-12 schools and systems, and other academic institutions across the world have adopted the Quality Matters process.  Read more about the Underlying Principles of Quality Matters.

Based on research-supported and published best practices, the QM Rubric is a set of standards by which to evaluate the design on online and blended courses. The rubric is complete with annotations that explain the application of the standards and the relationship between them. A scoring system and set of online tools facilitate the evaluation by a team of reviewers.

The Quality Matters Rubric and review process are dynamic and reflect current research findings and national standards of best practice in online learning. Such standards include the following:

  1. QM Rubric (Small Thumbnail) Course Overview and Introduction – The overall design of the course is made clear to the learner at the beginning of the course.
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies) – Learning objectives or competencies describe what learners will be able to do upon completion of the course.
  3. Assessment and Measurement – Assessments are integral to the learning process and are designed to evaluate learner progress in achieving the stated learning objectives or mastering the competencies.
  4. Instructional Materials – Instructional materials enable learners to achieve stated learning objectives or competencies.
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction – Course activities facilitate and support learner interaction and engagement.
  6. Course Technology – Course technologies support learners’ achievement of course objectives or competencies.
  7. Learner Support – The course facilitates learner access to institutional support services essential to learner success.
  8. Accessibility and Usability – The course design reflects a commitment to accessibility and usability for all learners.

Courses that successfully meet the QM Rubric standards in an official course review are eligible to carry the QM certification mark.


Quality Matters processes benefit both individual faculty and Madison College in the following ways:

  1. Improved student learning outcomes and retention
  2. Adoption of a systematic and comprehensive continuous quality assurance process that includes faculty training, course development and course revisions that are aligned with accreditation standards
  3. Incorporation of new technologies and research findings
  4. Opportunity to engage in benchmarking activities with peer institutions
  5. Ongoing faculty professional development
  6. Increased flexibility, creativity and divergent thinking
  7. Increased efficiency in using institutional resources

Interested in learning more or becoming involved in the QM process?  Contact Tina Rettler-Pagel (link sends e-mail) or Nancy Woodward (link sends e-mail) in CETL.

Other Best Practices