Quality Matters


Welcome to Quality Matters (QM) at The University of Tennessee University Health Science Center (UTHSC)!  This is your definitive source for news, information, and professional development related to quality online and blended courses and programs.


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is committed to applying high quality standards for the design of online and blended courses, and will systematically build and evaluate courses based on rigorous, research-supported standards. 

This commitment has led UTHSC to use Quality Matters (QM).  QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based and continuous improvement approach. The Quality Matters rubric is based on research, sound instructional design principles and best practices. 

Quality Matters empowers faculty to enhance and create online and blended courses of superior design quality that improves the learning experience and engagement for students.


Quality Matters is an internationally recognized, standards-based program that provides a replicable pathway for inter-institutional quality assurance and course improvement in online learning, a robust faculty development pathway, and a process to certify the quality of online courses.  The QM certification process uses the QM Rubric, one specific for higher education, to help colleges improve the quality assurance of their distance education programs.

Quality Matters seeks to improve and recognize course design that research has shown leads to improved student outcomes. The QM process is faculty-centered. Course design is reviewed by faculty members who have completed professional development on how to apply the rubric and have experience in teaching online courses. The goal of the peer review process is to provide an opportunity for continuous improvement in a collegial atmosphere. QM is not intended to be used for faculty evaluations of any kind. It is about the course, not the instructor.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is one of the over 900 subscribers to Quality Matters - a non-profit organization and the leading provider of tools and processes used to evaluate quality in course design.


The Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric, Fifth Edition, 2014 is a set of 8 General Standards and 43 Specific Review Standards used to evaluate the design of online and blended courses and it is centered on relevant research, and was initially developed based on a literature review of online learning and instructional design research, as well as the expertise of experienced online faculty, and existing standards and best practices for course design. Each of the Specific Rubric Standards is supported by research, and a new literature review is conducted periodically to guide and inform the revision of the QM Rubric.

The Eight General Standards on the Quality Matters Rubric are:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability

Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) is QM's flagship workshop on the QM Rubric and its use in reviewing the design of online and blended courses. It is intended for a broad audience, including but not limited to faculty, instructional designers, administrators, and adjunct instructors who wish to understand more about the QM process.


After successfully completing the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) Workshop, faculty can be involved in QM in the following ways:

  • Faculty can use the QM rubric as a guide when they design their online courses.
  • Faculty can do a self-review of their online course using the Self-Review tool on the QM website.
  • Faculty can begin their course design with the UTHSC Online Template, which meets over half of QM standards prior to course content, assignments, etc. being added.
  • Faculty can ask a trained QM Peer Reviewer from the Teaching & Learning Center to do an informal QM review of their course.
  • Departments and colleges can also request custom QM training or a QM consultation, and can choose to incorporate QM design principles within their online course design as well.


Course quality is paramount for today’s learners and program viability. Additionally, regional accreditors (e.g., SACSCOC) and accreditors of professional programs (e.g., CCNE [nursing], LCME [medicine], ACOTE [occupational therapy], ACPE [pharmacy], CODA [dentistry]) demand evidence of quality assurance processes and standards.

The Teaching & Learning Center (TLC) will be working with the College of Dentistry, College of Graduate Health Sciences, College of Health Professions, and College of Nursing to document established online quality processes and standards for online courses with respect to course design and presentation.


If you have any questions about Quality Matters, please contact the QM Coordinator for UTHSC.

  • Karen K. Shader, PhD – Associate Director, 901-448-2947, kshader@uthsc.edu


    Building Capacity for Quality Online, Distance, and Hybrid/Blended Courses/Programs

    We are excited to announce that the Teaching & Learning Center (TLC), a center dedicated to supporting UTHSC faculty in their efforts to expand and strengthen their use of teaching techniques and technologies, received $25,000 from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

    With this generous support, the TLC will initiate a focused quality effort to…

    • establish national recognition of selected online courses and faculty in each academic program at UTHSC that delivers all or part of its courses via online, distance, and/or hybrid/blended mechanisms
    • establish national program certification in course design and teaching for two online programs
    • prepare a core group of faculty members to serve as Peer Reviewers
    • prepare instructional designers to serve as QM Master Reviewers
    • prepare faculty for self-review of courses via professional development in best practices for teaching online and deploying online courses
    • to value, build, and support the quality online programs at UTHSC

    Our goal is to build our capacity within the institution and enhance UTHSC’s reputation for delivering high quality online, distance, and hybrid/blended courses/programs.


Contact us

Teaching and Learning Center
920 Madison Ave Ste 424