Quality Matters at USC Upstate

The Center for Academic Innovation and Faculty Support began coordinating Quality Matters (QM) reviews at USC Upstate in Spring 2023. We launched our first set of internal reviews with the help and support of our QM-trained faculty who serve USC Upstate as Peer Reviewers.

What is Quality Matters?

Quality Matters (QM) can best be described as being comprised of these three major elements:

  • QM is a non-profit organization with a mission to enhance the design of online courses.
  • QM is a rubric for evaluating and assessing the quality of online courses.
  • QM is a network of faculty and researchers who collaborate to innovate online course design.

For faculty at USC Upstate, QM is a resource for receiving constructive and productive feedback on the design of your online, hybrid, or HyFlex courses. Faculty members also benefit from free and discounted QM professional development in designing and delivering quality online courses.

The QM Higher Education Rubric, or the "rubric" as QM refers to it, is evidence- and research-based which means it is often refreshed and updated based on new findings in fields such as developmental psychology, teaching & learning, learning sciences, and others.

To learn more about QM please visit this link: Why QM?

The Quality Matters Team at USC Upstate

We have a robust and diverse network of faculty at USC Upstate to serve on your reviews.

Faculty & Peer Reviewers:

  • Celena Kusch (English, CAIFS)
  • Jennifer Bland (Instructional Designer, CAIFS)
  • Yamil Ernesto Ruiz (Instructional Designer, CAIFS)
  • Sharda Jackson Smith (Education)
  • Felicia Jenkins (Nursing)
  • Christa Christ (Psychology)
  • Jessica McLees (Education)
  • Kathleen Ferris (Biology)
  • Monique Jones (Nursing)
  • Michele Covington (Criminal Justice)
  • Ryan Crawford (Nursing)
  • Toshua Kennedy (Nursing)
  • Sharon Smith (Nursing)
  • Jessica Stoelting (Nursing)
  • Dawn Henderson (Nursing)

Coordinators & Course Review Managers:

  • Yamil Ernesto Ruiz
  • Celena Kusch

QM-Certified Courses at USC Upstate

USC Upstate Instructors with Internally Certified Courses

  • Tammy Pike, HIST U102 – Introduction to World History II

USC Upstate Instructors with external (official), QM Certified Courses

  • Coming Soon
  • We offer both internal and external (official) higher education QM reviews. These reviews are completed either entirely by our own network of peer reviewers or in combination with external reviewers from other higher education institutions. Courses that have been recognized as having met the standards of the QM rubric will feature a QM Essentials (internal certification) or QM-Certified badge on their syllabus and Blackboard course homepage to recognize the quality of their online course design.

    Additionally, all faculty have access to the higher education self-review rubric for use in self-assessments for continuous improvement of online, hybrid, and HyFlex courses.

    If you are interested in any of these review options, please contact our QM Coordinator, Yamil Ernesto Ruiz for more information.

  • A MyQM account grants faculty members access to the self-review rubric, QM Success Stories workshops, and internal and external Course Review applications.  

    Create a MYQM account:

    • Go to MyQM
    • Input your USC Upstate email address 
    • Select “No, I am new here”
    • Select Sign In
    • Input all required information and select Create Account.  [Your institution is listed as University of South Carolina-Upstate-SC]


    Select Workshop-Register to sign up for QM Training, including QM Success Stories and Accessibility Resources.  


    • Log into MyQM
    • Click on the CRMS icon located on the top menu
    • Select Start a Self-Review, and select the rubric for your review. 
    • Name your self-review with the name of the course, including the semester and year for quick reference to the version you are reviewing.
    • Click Begin Self-Review button. There is a tutorial video built into the My QM site.
    • Scroll through standards and click (Annotation) below each standard. A pop-up box with the Annotation will open. Click the X to return to the standards.
    • Please note: it is recommended that you save frequently during the review process. 
  • Pre-Review

    Before submitting your course for review via the application process, the most important work you can do is to evaluate and assess your learning objectives. QM reviews highly value the concept of alignment (the idea that the major aspects of a course are all aligned with each other), and the foundation of alignment are the learning objectives (LOs). QM reviews cannot proceed unless the course learning objectives and the module learning objectives are all measurable, specific, free of jargon, and written from the learners’ perspective. This work will be reflected in the Course Worksheet used in the Course Review Application.  

    Find more details for creating and aligning learning objectives in the CAIFS Resources for Innovative Course Design, About Backward Design.

    During Review

    Once the QM Coordinator reviews your application and approves it, they will select a team of at least 2 reviewers (3 if it is an official, external review) which will typically include at least one subject matter expert. Once the review begins, you will serve as Course Representative on the Review Team. This means you are the expert in the course being reviewed, and your main responsibility is to be prompt in responding if reviewers contact you to clarify certain aspects of your course during the review.

    A review can take up to 6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) to complete, but our internal reviews take less than 4 weeks on average. You can expect the Chair (lead reviewer) to reach out via email early in the process to schedule a Pre-Review Meeting to introduce the review team, ask pertinent questions and give you an opportunity to share your perspective on the course.


    When the review is complete the Chair will submit the Final Report. You will receive an automated email from QM to alert you of this submission. The report will indicate if your course has met or not met the rubric standards. Remember, each specific review standard is all or nothing (there is no partial credit), and to reach met you must have a cumulative score of 86 or greater and have met all the essential specific review standards (3-point standards).

    The Chair will also typically schedule a Post-Review Meeting to go over the highlights of the review findings and help provide some guidance on what changes and revisions the course design could use. As the Course Representative, you will have up to 14 weeks to make amendments and resubmit the changes via the Amendment Form. This process continues iteratively until you have met the conditions for a successful review.

    Faculty members who are revising courses based on suggestions for improvement in a QM internal or external review may receive support from CAIFS learning experience designers and student accessibility assistants. For more details, see About Instructional Design.