Reaching for Excellence: Applying the Touro Rubric for Online Education to Course Resdesign

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This workshop will teach participants how to use the Touro Rubric for Online Education (Rubric) as a formative tool in course development. The goal of this highly interactive session is to enable participants to understand the Rubric and immediately apply it to improving their online courses after completion of the workshop. 


Marian Stoltz-Loike, PhD Vice President, Online Education Dean, Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School As vice president of online education, Dr. Stoltz-Loike oversees Touro College’s full range of online offerings. Dr. Stoltz-Loike initiated a plan of building toward excellence in online education by building greater strategic and tactical collaboration across graduate and professional programs and creating consistency across online courses. Dr. Stoltz-Loike is the dean of Touro’s Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School (LCW) for a decade. LCW has enjoyed unprecedented growth in both number of students and quality of academic offerings during her tenure. She has introduced several honors programs for academically talented women, expanded STEM offerings in math and computer science and new programs in education. A professor of psychology and human resources management, she has served as a global corporate consultant with Fortune 100 companies in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America on how to build better strategies for using technology to simplify communication across borders and enable multinational businesses to work more effectively in a 24/7 world. She has written two books and over fifty articles relating to diversity, work/life issues, cross-cultural management and the maturing workforce. She has delivered presentations to over forty industry groups at domestic and international conferences on women’s career issues; building effective global business strategies; work-life balance; the impact of technology in the workplace; managing global teams; and generational diversity. Dr. Stoltz-Loike received a bachelor’s degree cum laude in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a focus on developmental psychology from New York University.

Extended Abstract

This workshop will teach participants how to use the Touro Rubric for Online Education (Rubric) as a formative educational tool in course development.

Several popular rubrics exist that are typically used to evaluate courses; however, these rubrics are expensive and may require extended training for mastery. The Touro Rubric for Online Education was designed to be intuitive, easy to master and easy to use. It can be used as a roadmap for faculty to improve or design courses and can also be used by instructional designers or a departmental team to evaluate course structure and pedagogy.

The focus of this workshop will be on using the Rubric as a powerful tool in online course design. Time constraints in this workshop make it impossible to train participants in using the Rubric as an evaluation tool. 

The Touro Rubric for Online Education has six categories, three focus on Course Structure (Course Design, Course Logic, and Course Technology Support) and three focus on Course Pedagogy (Instructor Presence, Learner Engagement, and Learner Assessment).  Each category consists of multiple items.  Reviewers evaluate courses by giving a score of 1 (needs improvement); 3 (meets expectations) or 5 (exceeds expectations) on each item in the Rubric. 

Categories to be evaluated and critical features of the Rubric were based on research and best practices in teaching and learning and in online education. For example, when instructors are involved, students may be more engaged. Engagement in a course leads to more involvement with the content. Therefore, instructor presence and student engagement were included in the Rubric.  Likewise, social learning theories suggest that social interactions influence learning, so elements that encourage community are built into the Rubric.  Similarly, embedded formative assessment involving repeated low stakes assessment improves learning and retention, therefore, assessment of how faculty uses low stakes assessment in course material is included in the Rubric.

Items included in each of the six categories were specifically linked to the focus of the category:

Course Design focuses on the quality and completeness of the content in the course site. Successful instructors have all the essential elements including a welcome message, the syllabus, instructor contact information and weekly folders or learning modules in place before the semester begins. Course Design includes evaluation of weekly learning objectives, course learning objectives and welcome message content.

Course Logic focuses on how an instructor guides students through the course site and the course content. Successful instructors follow a department/program course template, allow 1-click access to important information and connect the weekly learning objectives with the activities, materials and assessments. Course Logic includes assessment of course navigation and course template.

Course Technology Support focuses on whether information about technical and other online support is available to students. Successful instructors will provide technology tutorials and make LMS help information easily accessible. Course Technology Support includes review of quality of technology tutorials and clarity about student technical support.

Instructor Presence focuses on whether the instructor creates a guided learning experience for students throughout the course site during the semester. Successful instructors will create a dynamic presence in the online class by responding to students' questions, commenting on assignments and integrating information provided by students in earlier learning activities into orientation to new weekly modules. Instructor Presence includes assessment of discussion forums; discussion questions; and weekly orientations.

Learner Engagement focuses on whether students are engaged with each other and with the course materials. Successful instructors design meet-and-greet activities, use a variety of technology tools to enhance instruction, create learning activities that engage students with the course content, design group activities, and invite students to provide feedback to the instructor. Learner Engagement includes evaluation of introductory meet & greet activity; learning activities; interaction among students; and feedback from students.

Learner Assessment focuses on how students are assessed in the course and whether feedback is provided to the learners. Successful instructors make grading policies and rubrics readily accessible, ask students to submit work in multimedia format, encourage students to self-assess and provide feedback on student work. Learner Assessment includes evaluation of grading policy/rubric; student assessment; self-assessment/reflection activities; and quality of feedback from instructor

The Rubric is designed so that definitions of 1 (needs improvement), 3 (meets expectations) and 5 (exceeds expectation) are provided for each item in the Rubric. Each definition is specific and measurable, so that reviewers can easily determine the score but more importantly, faculty members who wants to improve their course can clearly understand how they can move from 1 to 3 or 3 to 5. 

 For example, a faculty member who had no meet and greet activity could add one and move to a score of 3 from a score of 1 on this item. More importantly, the activity would enable students to learn a little bit about one another. Similarly, a course could move to a 5 if the faculty member introduced a learning activity that required students to interact, building the foundation for a community of learners. 

This workshop will introduce participants to the Rubric as a powerful formative tool. The design and application of the Rubric will be reviewed.  Time for discussion about the tool and its application will be part of the workshop.

Participants will be trained on using the Rubric as a formative tool by reviewing items in each of the six categories and using examples to illustrate decisions about scoring each item. Participants will be asked to work together with others at their table and after each item is presented, groups will be asked to evaluate new material.  Subsequent discussion will focus on how participants can integrate this knowledge as they focus on designing or improving their courses.  

This interactive workshop will provide an in-depth understanding of the Touro Rubric for Online Education and offers participants one approach to use this valuable tool in course design. Discussion throughout the workshop will enable participants to share best practices and strategies for applying the Rubric in their coursework. The goal of this session is to enable participants to leave with the Rubric and be able to immediately apply it to their courses.