Quality Matters focuses on course design. There are many factors that play a part in a quality learning experience for students, but QM focuses mostly on course design.

QM Rubric

The Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric (Fifth Edition) consists of 8 general standards and 43 specific criteria that describe best practices in online and blended course design. The QM process is designed to be continuous, centered, collegial and collaborative. The rubric is based on best practices that promote student learning and instructional design principles that are part of good design. The rubric is supported by a thorough review of the literature and is updated every three years to reflect new techniques and technologies that have become available.

Unique to the Rubric is the concept of alignment. This occurs when learning objectives, module objectives, assignments/assessments, and course technology align so students accomplish the desired learning outcomes.

The Quality Matters process is illustrated with the Quality Matters “Quality Circle.” The circle represents the ongoing nature of the quality improvement process. The Quality Matters process is designed to ensure that courses undergoing review will ultimately meet quality standards. The QM course review process can be found at https://qualitymatters.org/why-quality-matters/process.

QM Higher Ed Rubric

The Quality Matters Circle

The Quality Matters Circle Diagram

The Course

The QM process is designed to review “mature” courses. Mature courses are defined as courses that have been taught for at least two semesters. The instructor/course developer is encouraged to use the QM rubric for self-review of the course or as part of the course design process.

Peer Course Review

In a formal QM review, the course is reviewed by three individuals who have been trained and certified in the use of the QM process. Prior to the review, the instructor will complete a course worksheet that provides essential information that will be used in the review process. During the review, the team members will independently access and explore the course online. The review team will make decisions about whether or not the course has met each of the standards on the rubric and enter their findings and recommendations in the QM online course review management system.


The determination about whether or not the course meets standards is shared with the instructor/course developer as part of the feedback process. Recommendations from all team members are provided to the course developer. Feedback and specific recommendations for improvement is provided for any standard that has not been met as part of the review. Feedback is provided as part of many of the other standards as well if reviewers have ideas for how the course might be improved.

Course Revision

The course developer has the opportunity to revise the course based on the findings and recommendations of the team. A course that has not yet met standards can be revised until it does meet standards.

Course Meets Quality Expectations

Once the course meets standards, as determined by the review team, the instructor/course developer will be given access to a logo that shows the course went through review and met standards. A course that met QM standards is good for 3-5 years. If the course undergoes major revision, the short time frame is used.

In order to meet Quality Matters review expectations using the Fifth Edition, 2014 QM Rubric, a course must meet each of the 21 essential standards (standards valued at 3 points). In addition, the course must receive a minimum of 84 (out of 99) points.

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