Quality Matters

Quality Matters at Central Arizona College

QM logo


As part of a college action project, Central Arizona College offers faculty the opportunity to implement Quality Matters standards in online course design. The Quality Matters standards help to ensure that the various componenets of the course design promote learner engagement and provide students with the tools they need to be successful learners.




What is the Quality Matters?
How is Quality Matters being used at CAC?
What training is available?
What does a course review involve?
How do I submit my course for review?
What is the benefit of serving on a peer review team?
How do we know that QM is having a positive impact on online learning?
Who do I contact for more information?

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. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning. QM subscribers include community and technical colleges, colleges and universities, K-12 schools and systems, and other academic institutions.

There are three primary components in the Quality Matters Program: The QM Rubric, the Peer Review Process and QM Professional Development. To learn more about each of these components of Quality Matters, visit their website.

How is Quality Matters being used at CAC?

Quality Matters can be implemented in three different ways. The implementation option available will depend on how your division or department has chosen. All faculty are welcome to participate in voluntary implementation.

Option One: Voluntary Implementation:

  • Rubric is used as an informational tool for developing and improving courses
  • Peer reviews of courses are voluntary and can be submitted for unofficial course review
  • Any training is voluntary, but APPQMR is highly recommended
  • No specific course review cycle

Option Two: Modified Implementation

  • All courses in the division/department use the QM rubric to direct basic course design
  • Courses may be submitted voluntarily for unofficial or official QM review
  • APPQMR training required for those involved in course reviews. Certified Peer Review training is voluntary, but recommended for 10% of faculty.
  • Courses that are submitted for peer review must undergo an expedited course review every three years.

Option Three: Full Implementation

  • All courses in the department or division use the QM rubric for basic course design
  • All courses in the department or division will be submitted for unofficial review. Official reviews are voluntary.
  • All faculty will receive APPQMR training. Faculty designated by the department or division will become Certified Peer Reviewers.
  • All courses are submitted for an expedited review every three years.
  • Divisions or departments who opt for full implementation must commit to comprehensive training of faculty and staff prior to implementation.

What training is available?

APPQMR (Applying the QM Rubric) workshop: The first course that most faculty take is the APPQMR. This workshop is offered at CAC a few times per year and is free of charge. This is a seven-hour workshop that gives an overview of QM, the QM rubric, and the peer review process. It can also be taken as an online as a two-week course through QM for a $200 subscriber fee. Divisions may request a face-to-face workshop for their faculty and staff with a minimum of 10 paticipants.

To sign up for the next APPQMR workshop, please email Tracey Powers.

PRC (Certified Peer Reviewer Course): This is a two-week, online course that prepares experienced online faculty to participate in course reviews. It is completely online and is taken through QM for a $150 subscriber fee (non-subscriber fee is $300). The APPQMR workshop is a pre-requisite to this course. We ask that faculty and staff who complete training paid for by CAC serve on peer review teams.

QM offers a wide range of courses for professional development. Visit their website for more information on available courses.

What does a QM course review involve?

QM is faculty-driven, peer review process that is collaborative, collegial, continuous, and centered, using best practices of instructional design. It is not evaluative. There are two types of course reviews at CAC. Official and unofficial. Most courses at CAC will go through unofficial reviews.

Official Review: An official review follows the process required by QM in order to become a QM certified course. This requires the instructor to submit their course for review to the QM Coordinator. The Coordinator will assemble a team of three reviewers. All three will be QM-certified peer reviewers. One will be a subject-matter expert. One members of the review team will be from an external institution. The course will be reviewed using all of the eight standards of the QM rubric . The instructor completes a worksheet detailing various components of the course for the review team. The review team proceeds with a review and will send feedback to the instructor. An official review can take up to fifteen weeks. Courses that do not meet standards will be returned for changes to the course developer. Courses that complete an official review will become certified by QM and will be listed on their website. Courses may use the QM certification logo in printed materials.

Unofficial Review: An unofficial review is done internally at CAC with a team of three peer reviewers. All peer review team members will have completed the APPQMR workshop and at least one member will be a subject-matter expert. One member of the review team will be a certified peer reviewer. An unofficial review will involve, at a minimum, the essential standards. These are the "3 point" standards on the QM rubric. A course that has been through an unofficial review will meet all of the 21  3-point essential standards. An unofficial review can take up to 12 weeks to complete, depending on course revisions needed. Courses that complete an unofficial review will be recognized by the college.

How do I submit my course for review?

To submit your course for review, contact Tracey Powers at tracey.powers@centralaz.edu. Please give the following information:

  • Name of Course Developer
  • Faculty who teach the course (may be the same as course developer)
  • Course number and title
  • Program or Division
  • Unofficial or official course review requested
  • Approximate yearly enrollment
  • Years course has been taught using current design.

Please keep in mind that a review, official or unofficial, cannot take place until a qualified team is in place. All faculty are encouraged to complete the APPQMR training and volunteer to serve on review teams in order to assist faculty who wish to put their courses through a review.

What is the benefit of serving on a peer review team?

Course reviews are a great way to learn more about course design. The process is collegial and collaborative, so it is an opportunity to engage in discussions about instructional design and online learning. You will get exposure to instructional design and get ideas for improving online courses. It is also an opportunity to help improve the student learning outcomes and retention at the college.

How do we know that QM is having a positive effect on online and hybrid learning?

Courses that go through review will be part of a data collection process. Data collected may include, but is not limited to:

  • Faculty and student satisfaction
  • Measuring course alignment to objectives
  • Student retention

Whom do I contact for more information?

Visit the QM website for more information on Quality Matters. For questions related to CAC's QM training, course reviews, or other college-related questions, contact Tracey Powers, QM Coordinator.

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814