Measuring quality of online courses: A study of adoption of quality standards and processes

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Brief Abstract

This study is an initial attempt to establish measurable implementation of tools and processes into an institution’s quality assurance approach. Both the creation and dissemination of online course quality standards needs to be explored at the institutional level of implementation to better understand how the local/individual implementation of those standards and QA processes are impacting online learning. 

Extended Abstract

The continued growth of online learning has both raised scholarly and practice-based discussions of how to assess the quality of online courses. Understanding the impact of faculty’s practice of quality online course design and the relationship of institutionally supported quality processes are significant to explore, as online learning is mainstreaming in U. S. higher education institutions (Allen & Seaman, 2004; Legon & Garrett, 2017; Shattuck, 2018). 

Research-informed and validated quality standards for the design of online courses, as well as faculty-led evaluative processes for online courses, have been established by Quality Matters (QM) (https://www.qualitymatters.org/). The purpose of this study is to identify the relationship between institutional implementation of these online quality design standards and subsequent course quality, as determined through a rigorous peer review process. We additionally explore the use and dissemination of online course quality standards at the institutional level of implementation, in order to better understand how the "local"/individual implementation of those standards and quality assurance processes are impacting online learning. 

This study explores the following research questions:

  • RQ 1: Do instructors with more knowledge of online instructional design tend to produce higher quality online courses?
  • RQ 2: Do higher education institutions that have implemented online learning quality assurance procedures tend to produce higher quality online courses?