Faculty Perspective: QM Essential Standards Program Leads to Student Engagement

Students practice social distancing as they find spaces to study in the Talley Student Center during the fall 2020 semester.

Photo by Becky Kirkland.

Faculty who participate in the Quality Matters Essential Standards Program (QMESP) will focus on improving their online or blended course based on the Quality Matters Essential Standards which are supported by research and best practices in online course design. Participating in QMESP leads to a well-designed course that is built to engage students.

What is the QM Essential Standards Program? 

The QM Essential Standards Program is a professional development program for faculty who have limited experience with online course design and pedagogy. With guidance and resources from DELTA’s Course Quality Program team, faculty participating in QMESP will apply the 23 essential Quality Matters Essential Standards to their current online or blended course. 

This program includes an internal review of the course by a team of NC State Faculty Peer Reviewers. Completion of the program results in QM Essential Standards Recognition for the course. Faculty who complete the program also receive a $4,000 monetary award.

Impact of QM Essentials Program

Professor of Accounting Eileen Taylor participated in the QM Essential Standards Program to improve MBA 510: Critical Thinking for Managers. “I have always been interested in continuous improvement in my teaching, and because most of my courses are online, I knew this program would be beneficial across the board,” Taylor says. 

Taylor found that QMESP impacted her ability to improve MBA 510 and the other courses she teaches. The program also allowed her to learn from other NC State faculty members. 

“The primary benefit is that I was able to improve my course in a significant way and that the changes were based on a set of valid, tested standards. A secondary benefit is that I can apply this new knowledge to guide the improvement of my other courses. Lastly, I was able to meet faculty from across campus who are experts in the area and who make themselves available to answer questions that arise after the course.” Taylor says. 

Taylor noticed several beneficial impacts of applying QM Essential Standards to her course. The improved course organization allowed Taylor to spend more time focusing on teaching students course content. 

“There has been a noticeable increase in the number of positive student comments related to the organization and presentation of the course. I also find that I am answering content questions and receive very few logistic questions — students can spend more time focusing on the material than on where to find an assignment or what to do each week,” Taylor says. 

As part of the QMESP, Taylor created a course map and made it available to students. A course map is a visual representation of a course that illustrates the alignment between course objectives, module objectives, learning materials and activities, and assessments. The course map enabled Taylor to create an aligned, well-organized course and helped her students understand what knowledge and skills they will obtain from taking Taylor’s course. 

Taylor added, “My students benefit from having a course that is well-designed and structured. My students and I appreciate the course map since it lets them know that there is a reason for the readings and assignments and that everything ties together.” 

Participating in OMESP has led to Taylor being recognized for her professional development. MBA 510 has a QM Essential Standards Recognition badge that is displayed within the course. As a result, students can easily recognize that the course is of high quality.

“Professionally, my college values the certification, and students are beginning to recognize the QM logo. I have also become a resource for others in my college who want to pursue QM certification for their courses” Taylor says. 

The impact of COVID-19 on higher education has increased the need to offer quality online courses. The QM Essential Standards Program provides faculty with the skills to create a course that offers a high level of learning.

Taylor emphasizes, “As a technology university, and especially now, when more classes are being offered remotely, it is important for NC State to be at the top of our game — a quality online course requires faculty to pay attention to so many details and anticipate a variety of student learning issues. In order to maintain our high level of education, our online courses must be deliberately designed to engage learners.” 

Links: 

Course Quality Program at NC State

QM Essential Standards Program

Apply to the Course Quality Essentials Program