Quality Matters Frequently Asked Questions

What is Quality Matters?

Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses.

The underlying Principles of QM are:

  1. Continuous; the rubric-based review is integral to a continuous quality improvement process.
  2. Centered; the development of the rubric is based on national standards of best practice, research literature and instructional design principles.
  3. Collegial; the QM review is intended to be diagnostic and collegial, and is part of a faculty-driven, peer review process.
  4. Collaborative; the review is based on collaboratively identified evidence found in the course, rather than the personal preference of an individual reviewer. It is flexible and not prescriptive.


  • Develop best practices and improve existing courses.
  • Increase the overall quality of online classes offered by Southeast Missouri State University.
  • Increase student engagement in online learning environments.

What impact has QM had at Southeast?

To find out how SEMO has been effected by the QM process, check out our QM Implementation Report.

How can I prepare my course for QM course review?

  1. Identify and outline the course's Learning Objectives. QM requires clearly stated learning objectives for the course and for each unit or module within the course. These should be measurable, using the active verbs that align with the course activities. (Here’s a link to our Bloom's Taxonomy resource) The QM rubric focuses strongly on the alignment of course activities, assignments, and assessments with the objectives, so it’s not possible to review a course unless objectives are stated.
  2. Identify and outline any specific technical requirements necessary for your course. It's unnecessary to list word processors or basic computer skills, but if a course requires extensive use of more esoteric programs, software, or websites, be sure to specify those requirements. Also list any crucial hardware essential to the course such as webcams or microphones, and suggest ideal models and links to where those can be purchased.
  3. Include the Keys to Success book, found on the Collaboration course in Moodle. Contact the CSTL or the instructional designers for access to that course. The Keys to Success book is updated every semester, and covers 22 of the QM rubric's 100 points. It saves a ton of work for everyone involved if that resource is included.
  4. Read over the QM Rubric. The rubric is exactly what the the reviewers use when analyzing your course, so the more you know about what reviewers look for, the better you can prepare your course for review. You can perform a self-test once you create an account on the Quality Matters website (if you don't already have one). Log in, go to Course Review Management Systems, look under the My Course Reviews tab, and open a Self-Review for access to an updated rubric.
  5. Teach the course. "Seasoning" a course, or teaching it at least once in its current format, allows for tweaking any design hiccups that arise as it's being taught.

How does a QM review work?

A QM peer reviewer from Southeast will be assigned to your course. You will submit a Course Representative Worksheet to provides background information about the course, learning objectives, and access to supplementary materials. The reviewer will then prepare a Reviewer Worksheet with detailed feedback on the 42 Specific Standards in the QM rubric. The reviewer will indicate whether each one is Met or Not Met; to meet the QM standards overall, the course must meet all the Essential Standards (23 of them), and have a total of 85 points out of the possible 100 (85%).

A best practice for Peer Reviewers is to offer some constructive suggestions for improvement on every standard, even those that are met. The reasoning is that it’s rare for an objective observer to spend time and effort working through another instructor's online course at this level of detail. As long as someone is spending the time doing the review, it's best to get as much feedback as possible.

If the course does not meet the QM standards initially (and this is common), the course may be revised until it meets the standards. The peer reviewer will provide specific guidance and ideas to meet any missed standards. Of course, there are many ways to meet the standards, so you may find other ways besides those suggested; however, the reviewer’s goal will be to make it as easy as possible for you to achieve the QM standards.Once changes are maded, you will notify the reviewer, and the reviewer will go back through and re-evaluate the course on those standards that were not met previously. The goal of every QM review is that the course will meet the standards at the end of the process.

Once a course meets the QM standards, any professional development or stipend payment are sent as well as an email acknowledging that the course has been internally reviewed and met QM standards. The course may then be offered online. As of Fall 2017, all online courses offered at Southeast must meet QM Standards.

If I teach online, does my course have to meet QM standards?

It does. As of January 2018, any online section of a course offered at Southeast Missouri State University must meet the standards outlined in the Quality Matters rubric. Faculty teaching a course for the first time at Southeast are allowed one semester to teach an online section without meeting the rubric. This is to allow faculty time to develop and season a new online course. Once the course has been taught once by that instructor, students will not be allowed to register for that instructor’s sections until the course has been through review. Faculty may use another faculty member’s copy that has met the QM rubric. They may only change the contact information and no more than 15% of the course structure. That copy may only be used with explicit permission from the faculty member that created it.

Once my course has been QM reviewed, do I still retain copyright?

Absolutely. Any course is considered the intellectual property of the instructor and therefore protected. No courses will be used without explicit permission by the instructor who created it. Courses that have met QM standards are archived by the CSTL.

How long is a review good for?

Once a course has met QM standards, it can be offered as often as needed for five years. After five years, enough of the course will have changed and the QM Rubric will have updated enough to warrant reviewing the course again. Because the course has met a prior iteration of the QM Rubric, the review process will be swift and innocuous.

Once my course has met the QM rubric, may I change anything?

Please do. A course is a living thing that must adapt to changes within the instructor, the learners, and the course content.

However, only 15% of the course structure may be changed. Course content is under no such restrictions.

If a textbook or a reading changes but the learning objectives and assessments stay the same, those changes do not count towards that 15% threshold.

If a course uses a portfolio filled with artifacts collected over the course of the semester as an assessment, and that is replace with a high-stakes multiple choice exam, that would violate the 15% threshold. It changes more than a week’s worth of assessments and could conflict with any learning objectives connected to the artifacts and portfolio assessment criteria.