Improve your course with help from a review rubric

Shows a stair step with Make Things Better on each of three steps. An arrow designating progress points up.

When we prepare to teach a course in a new semester we have the opportunity to make improvements. These improvements are most often related to content updates by bringing in new research and current events. Updating and improving content is manageable as it is most familiar to us as experts in our designated fields. It is harder to come up with improvements in assessing and supporting students. We might just be too close to our own design to look at the course with an unbiased eye. This is where a variety of researched and established review rubrics can each be used to guide improvements. All of these rubrics look at course design and not on the actual delivery or teaching of the course.

Quality Matters

Quality Matters (QM) is a nationally recognized, research-based, peer-review process for certifying quality in online and blended courses. This rubric is based on 42 QM Specific Review Standards in eight categories and provides helpful annotations to look for in a course that is related to each standard. The rubric has recently been updated to include revisions to accessibility, technology and digital literacy.

UAF faculty have access to the QM self-review tool which can be to review and keep notes about potential improvements to make in the future. During Fall and Spring semesters you can participate in online courses and workshops to work through QM rubrics and tools using your own courses and within a peer group of UA faculty.

Blackboard Exemplary Course Rubric

This rubric is used to determine if your course contains key characteristics of high-quality course design. The Blackboard rubric concentrates on 17 sub-categories within four sections: Course Design, Interactions & Collaboration, Assessment, and Learner Support. The benefit of this rubric is that there are varying levels for each sub-category from exemplary to incomplete so you can concentrate on those areas where your course might be the weakest.

Rubric for Online Instruction

California State University Chico developed this rubric as a means to specifically evaluate the quality of online and hybrid courses. This rubric is used at many of the Cal State campuses as part of a Quality Learning and Teaching initiative. The rubric is based on six domains including Faculty Use of Student Feedback. The developers suggest using the rubric for designing new online and hybrid course as well as for course redesign and improvement.

Open SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR)

OSCQR is another option for making improvements to your course. This rubric is based on 50 standards. These standards are each supported with explanations, resources, and references. The matrix asks you to estimate the amount of time it might take to make a revision which is a slightly different approach from other rubrics.

How does this pertain to you? As you prepare for the new semester, select one of these rubrics and use it as a guide to make improvements to a course. Take one standard or domain at a time and evaluate what you are providing for your students. If you are developing a new course, use the rubric to help guide your design decisions. Even if you aren’t teaching an online or a hybrid class, most likely you have an online component in your course that could benefit from a review. Consider adding to your course online presence with some suggestions from one of the rubrics. Contact us if you’re interested in a more formal review for your course design or to set up a consultation if you’d like to use one of the rubrics in collaboration with an Instructional Designer.

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Heidi Olson

Instructional Designer

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