Pedagogy Resources

Your guide to better teaching. 

Table of ContentsGlossary

Quality Matters

Developing and recognizing quality online courses. 

What is Quality Matters?

Founded as part of a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant in 2003, Quality Matters (QM) is a nationally recognized peer review process for certifying quality in online courses. QM has spent more than a decade developing and refining a process for course peer review using a custom, 42-standard rubric based on current research, best practices, national standards and course design models.

“Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. … QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education.”

The Quality Matters Peer Review process is:

  • faculty-driven
  • collaborative
  • designed to provide specific, detailed and constructive feedback on course design
  • collegial, not evaluative or judgmental
  • centered on the learner’s experience

For more on Quality Matters implementation at the University of Alaska see the AQI website.


Quality Matters logo

How Can I Use Quality Matters in My Course?

UAF eCampus is happy to be bringing the proven work of the Quality Matters (QM) organization to UAF in support of continuous improvement of fully-online and hybrid courses. Our relationship with QM means that we partner with and support UAF instructors who are interested in putting their course(s) through a QM review. These reviews examine the course content—the learning objectives, curriculum, planned learning activities— not delivery, using the QM Rubric as an authority rather than individual preferences. All reviewers, including UAF instructional designers, are trained in applying the Rubric, writing helpful recommendations and considering the course from the learner’s point of view. The review process is an opportunity to work with professionals in your discipline and in online learning to think critically about how learners move through and work toward success in your course.

There are multiple levels of review:

Level 1: Consult with an Instructional Designer

UAF eCampus Instructional Designers are trained in applying the Quality Matters Rubric. While the rubric is designed to assess mature online and hybrid courses, we can help you consider improvements for any course based on Quality Matters and other well-established design models.

Level 2: Self-Guided Review

UAF is a QM subscribing institution and all UAF faculty have access to QM Resources including the Research Library and a comprehensive Self-Review Tool for evaluating your own course. If you’re interested, fill out this form to get started.

Level 3: Informal Review

If you are interested in receiving basic feedback on the design of your online course or are considering a Formal Review, we can work with you on getting started, identifying needs, and making improvements in your course. While this doesn’t necessitate a formal review, the informal process will prepare you well if you’d like to work with external reviewers through the formal QM process.

Level 4: Formal Review

Online and hybrid courses are eligible for a formal QM review. The formal review is a three-week process in which the review team (consisting of a Master Reviewer, a Subject Matter Expert and an External Reviewer from another institution) examines your course using the QM Rubric, decides if it meets expectations for each standard, and—whether it meets expectations or not—writes a helpful recommendation providing ideas for improvement and enrichment of that standard. If two or more reviewers agree a standard has been met, no revision is required. If not, instructors can revise their course using the recommendations.

The QM Review is based on continual improvement. It is a diagnostic, not an evaluation. If they wish to do so, all instructors are given an opportunity to revise their course as needed to meet the QM standards. Successful revision results in the course being listed in the national QM Database of quality courses and the right to display the QM logo. Most importantly, a successful course review means a course that is better for learners!

Quality Matters Higher Education 2019

Certified Classes at UAF


Since starting formal review activities at UAF the following courses have been certified:

How-To Instructions and DIY

Quality Matters materials and professional development are available to UAF faculty and staff through our institutional membership. If you are interested in participating in performing a self-guided review, or taking part in an informal or formal review, start by:

Considerations for Online Courses

Quality Matters is specifically for online and hybrid courses. If you are interested in a similar process that might apply to your face-to-face (or other) course, get in touch and we’ll help you find relevant resources.

We’ve also developed some guidelines to help you use this site as a tool for implementing QM values in your course. Check out the guidelines here.

Research Foundations

The Quality Matters Rubric and related materials are supported by rigorous and current research. You can browse and search in their research library for this supporting material or check out the research that’s been done on the impact of QM in online learning.

In Practice

Online Pedagogy

This course, taught by Owen Guthrie, is online, project-based, and centered around a Community of Inquiry. The course was Quality Matters certified in 2016.


Owen Guthrie introduces Quality Matters

Quality Matters: Further Resources

UAF Instructional Designers

This page has been authored collectively by the experts on the UAF Instructional Design Team. Let us know if you have suggestions or corrections!

Instructional Design Team, UAF eCampus