QM Frequently Asked Questions

What are the principles behind Quality Matters?

Quality Matters was designed with the following principles in mind. It is:


  • The Quality Matters process is designed to ensure all reviewed courses will eventually meet expectations.
  • The process is integral to a continuous quality improvement process.


  • On research - the development of the rubric is based in national standards of best practice, the research literature, and instructional design principles.
  • On student learning - the rubric and process are designed to promote student learning.
  • On quality - the review sets a quality goal at the 85% level or better (courses do not have to be perfect but better than good enough).


  • A Quality Matters review is part of a faculty-driven, peer review process.
  • The review process is intended to be diagnostic and collegial, not evaluative and judgmental.


  • The review is based on collaboratively identified evidence found in the course rather than the personal preference of an individual reviewer.
  • The review is flexible and not prescriptive (many ways to meet each standard).
  • The review team consists of experienced online instructors as reviewers in communication with the course developer. (Quality Matters, 2014).
What Quality Matters is NOT

Quality Matters is not about an individual instructor, faculty evaluation teaching, and it is not a win/lose, pass/fail test.

What is ACC’s Quality Matters Implementation Plan?

Quality Matters implementation at Austin Community College occurs at 3 levels: Initial QM Review, Internal QM Review, and Official QM Review. Initial QM Review and Internal QM Review are to be completed on all online and hybrid courses using the QM Rubric.

Initial QM Review is done by an instructional designer immediately following a course design on which an instructional designer and faculty collaborated. Internal QM Review is done by a team of three faculty peer reviewers in instructional departments. Faculty peer reviewers are expected to have completed the peer review training. Official QM Review while not required, is highly recommended. The Official QM Review results in a Quality Matters seal of approval and certification mark.

What is in it for ACC?

The QM process provides the following:

  • External validation process
  • Strengthens institution’s accreditation package
  • An established quality assurance “system” and access to a sustainable, replicable, scalable process
  • Raises quality assurance as a priority activity in ACC
  • Informs online course training & practices
  • Professional development activities
What’s in it for Faculty?

The Quality Matters process provides:

  • A framework to improve your online course
  • Instructional design support
  • External quality assurance
  • Opportunity to expand professional community
  • Opportunity to review other courses
  • Opportunity to gain new ideas for your own course
  • Participation useful for annual evaluations, promotion applications, professional development plan/requirements
Does QM replace student course evaluations or faculty evaluations?

No. QM is not a student evaluation of the faculty member’s delivery of the course. It is a peer evaluation of the design (not the content) of the course.

What are the QM standards?

There are eight general standards and 43 specific standards. The eight general standards are:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Resources and Materials
  5. Learner Engagement
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility
Do I have to meet all the standards in order to meet expectations?

No. Courses do not have to be perfect in that they meet every single standard. However, courses do need to meet all essential standards and earn a minimum of 84 out of 99 points (85% in order to meet expectations.

What happens if a course does not meet expectations?

The QM process is designed so that all courses will eventually meet expectations. If a course does not meet expectations upon an initial review, the faculty course developer received detailed feedback from a team of peer reviewers and have an opportunity to revise the course with the help of the staff within the Instructional Innovation center. The revised course is then submitted to the team chair for approval.

Will the review take place in my live course?

No. The review team will receive access to the copy of the course and do not have access to any student data.

How will the reviewers have access to my course?

With the faculty permission, The Office of Distance and Alternative staff will create guest accounts for the reviewers to log into Blackboard and access the course review site.

If more than one faculty member teaches a course with the same content, do both courses have to be peer reviewed?

Courses in the same academic unit with more than one section being taught by more than one faculty will not need to be reviewed separately as long as the course is copied without modification across the sections. In this case, the designer or course developer of the original course will participate in the review.

Have any institutions in the state of Texas adopted Quality Matters?

Yes. There are currently 78 institutions in the state who have adopted the Quality Matters Rubric and using it as framework for distance education course design. The list of schools and institutions can be found here.

Who can help me improve my courses and my teaching methods?

Mentors in your departments, instructional designers and the Office of Distance Leaning can provide consultation and advisement to individuals, groups, and departments regarding their teaching and learning needs. Possible topics for individual consultation include course design, teaching techniques, assessment, teaching tools, and listed workshop topics.

Where can I find online teaching professional development opportunities?

On the TLED website at http://tled.austincc.edu/ TLED also sends out weekly newsletter of available professional development workshops.

More information?

Faculty interested should contact the Office of Distance and Alternative Learning at dlstaff@austincc.edu or QM Coordinators.

Distance & Alternative Education