A Matter of Quality

GWU Online Programs Marked for Excellence through Quality Matters Program

QM has developed a widely-respected set of standards for the design of effective online courses and a rigorous, faculty peer-review process for applying these standards to existing courses. Through this process, reviewers provide instructors and instructional design teams with insights and recommendations that increase learning engagement, retention and satisfaction, and ultimately, learner achievement.

“The genius of the Quality Matters system is that it is rooted in the philosophy of peer review, rather than a top-down or administratively-driven system,” explained Dr. Ben Leslie, provost and executive vice president for GWU. “QM helps Gardner-Webb’s online courses in that it provides us with a continuing emphasis on student engagement and all those elements that make for active learning in the online environment as opposed to the passive transfer of information.”

Dr. Janet Land is a professor of English and the director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and she spearheaded the effort to engage the University as a QM institution. She has witnessed the positive effects of the Quality Matters affiliation in a variety of ways. “Students seek affordability and quality in a graduate degree program,” Land shared. “The Quality Matters logo is like a stamp of approval on a course, meaning it is vetted by faculty for high-quality standards. Effective teaching or instruction is not simply using technology, nor is it simply lecturing and testing—in any format—as research repeatedly demonstrates.”

Dr. Tracy Arnold, associate professor of nursing, was among the first GWU faculty members to certify as a reviewer for online courses. “This process really makes sure that online education is quality and that it replicates the same level of instruction that students would receive in face-to-face environments,” Arnold stated.

At Gardner-Webb, the Quality Matters distinction helps recruit new students to its academic programs. “When we demonstrate right away that candidates are signing up for a quality experience, I think that certainly helps attract students,” Brown reflected. “Then, once students come and understand the course design and that they are getting feedback from a professor while developing a relationship with the people in their cohort, they will want to stay in the program because they feel supported and successful. Quality Matters is an important thing for our university for lots of different stakeholders.”

Learn more about the GWU Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning