Suggestions for Faculty Developers from a Master Reviewer

This is a guest post from Jen Dahlen, one of our Master Reviewers.  Look for more guest posts from our Master Reviewers in the coming months!

Suggestions from a Master Reviewer

Author: Jen Dahlen, Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

I have been a Master Reviewer/Reviewer for Quality Matters for a little over three years and I am starting to see a pattern. While there is room for interpretation within the standards and annotations, I always find it helpful to have a conversation with the peer review team regardless of whether the course met or did not meet the Quality Matters standards. This conversation helps to broaden perspectives of how others are interpreting the standards, in order that the recommendations for change within the course are supported by the standards. There are three recommendations I seem to make on each review in the areas of quizzes, and standards 2.1 and 4.6.

  1. For the purpose of the review, please open any quizzes or tests and set them to multiple attempts. You will have the opportunity to explain how you use quizzes on the faculty developer worksheet, or during the pre-conference call.  As a reviewer, I am constantly moving around the course – poking my head in this discussion, looking at the course learner outcomes, checking out the quizzes, and a day later wanting to double check something else back in quizzes.  If the attempts are set to one, I can’t go back into a quiz and double check on something because I have used up my attempts. Please open the quizzes and tests for multiple attempts, so the reviewers have full access to the course.  Thank you!
  2. Standard 2.1 says, “The course learning objectives describes outcomes that are measurable.” Please take a look at the course outcomes/objectives and revise any of them that contain the verbs like “understand” or “appreciate” since one can’t really assess how well students “understand” or measure their level of “appreciation.” The more specific you can be about what it is the students are to do to demonstrate their proficiency, the better.  You may want to take a look at the Bloom’s Taxonomy for help in writing measurable course outcomes/objectives.
  3. Standard 4.6 states, “The distinction between required and optional materials is clearly explained.” My interpretation of the standard is supported by the annotation, “Clear expectations are provided to the students regarding which materials and resources are required and which are optional.” Often we assume everything we place in our courses is required – why else would we include it? Well, in my experiences students don’t do optional. In order to meet this standard, consider placing a statement in the syllabi like, “There are no optional materials/assignments in this course.” Consider clearly labeling optional materials as such in the syllabi or in the description of items themselves. If there is no indication of optional or required in the course – I will advocate for the student and mark this standard as “not met.”  This is just one small item, but it is a perfect example of how sometimes we think our students will know something because we understand it to be true. The best practice, again, is to be as specific as possible with our expectations for course work.

Jen teaches Composition (both on campus and online) at Northland Community & Technical College.  In addition to serving as a Master Reviewer, Jen has two QM Certified courses: Comp I & Comp II.

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