UMass Boston Course Quality Review

UMass Boston’s eLearning & Instructional Support has adopted, edited and remixed with permission the Open SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR) Rubric and Process developed by the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE). The OSCQR Rubric and Process is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and can be used by individual faculty members as a reflective practice; instructional designers to support continuous course improvement; or departments as part of a more formal course review process.


The Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE) has developed the Open SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR) Rubric and Process based on an extensive list of instructional and accessibility best practices and intensive educational research. In April 2016, the Online Learning Consortium has partnered with SUNY to add the OSCQR Review and Process to the OLC Quality Scorecard Suite.

“Working with multi institutional teams of SUNY online instructional designers, librarians, distance learning directors, and technologists, Open SUNY COTE staff started with the Chico rubric, 20 years of SLN research-informed best online practices, the SUNY office of general counsel’s memorandum on accessibility considerations, and conducted a gap analysis with Quality Matters, iNACOL, and Bb exemplary courses. The resulting rubric was also informed by the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, 2000), The 7 Principles for Good practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987), The Adult Learner (Malcom Knowles, 1973), Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom et al., 1956) and How People Learn (Bransford et al., 1999), and mapped to the Open SUNY COTE fundamental competencies for online teaching. We are continuing the process of building out the citations and annotations associated with each standard in the rubric here: OSCQR Rubric Annotations and Refresh resources – each standard is explained and supported by citations from the literature. A formal literature review is planned and in progress.” – OSCQR @ OLC

OSCQR @ UMass Boston

To ensure online and blended courses at UMass Boston are learner-centered, accessible and well designed, UMass Boston’s eLearning & Instructional Support has launched the OSCQR Rubric and Process customized for UMass Boston. The fifty standards focus on course design, and help instructors assess opportunities for social presence, cognitive presence and improved accessibility, in addition to the overall online course educational experience. The OSCQR Review and Process is intended to be used for reviewing course design rather than the course delivery or instructor performance.

The Rubric

The OSCQR has a number of unique features:

  • Dashboard function for easy customization to the needs of each department or program by allowing for prioritization of the standards.
  • Analytics that facilitate the overall tracking of course design issues and trends.
  • Action plan generation that details suggestions for course improvement. These are chosen from a menu of options by each reviewer.

An action plan automatically aggregates the feedback generated during the course review and provides recommendations and examples of enhancements for improvement. Faculty may work with eLearning & Instructional Support to target areas of the course design for improvement.

The Standards: What Should a Quality Online or Blended Course Look Like?

The OSCQR contains 50 standards for instructional quality and learner-centered support. The standards can be viewed at OSCQR Standards and Annotations.  The OSCQR framework provides an opportunity for instructors to self-assess their coursework using current best practices in teaching and learning. These 50 standards meet the University’s expectations for exemplary course design.

The standards are organized around seven core categories:

  1. Course overview and information
  2. Course technology and tools
  3. Design and layout
  4. Content and activities
  5. Interaction
  6. Assessment and feedback
  7. Accessibility best practices

When Is OSCQR Appropriate to Use?

The OSCQR Rubric and Process is recommended for instructors to use for review of an 100% online or a blended course which is at least 50% online, and has been taught a minimum of two semesters. The OSCQR is not appropriate for the formal review of face-to-face courses, however, most of the standards are applicable. In addition, eLearning & Instructional Support can help instructors assess face-to-face courses through an adapted process. The OSCQR is a voluntary process for course quality review.

The OSCQR Rubric and Process could be used in the following ways:

  • As a self-directed quality course review and improvement process.
  • A roadmap for new course development.
  • A guide to perform an accessibility check.
  • For recognition of exemplary course design and instructional best practices. A certification of the course is provided to an instructor who has undergone the course review and refresh process.
  • As part of a formal department or program quality review process and certification.

How do I begin the OSCQR Process?

To find out more information about the OSCQR Rubric and Process please contact eLearning & Instructional Support will help lead you through the OSCQR and Course Refresh Process.

How Long Does the Process Take?

There are many ways to utilize the OSCQR Rubric and Process and therefore the length of the review will vary. Since the review is voluntary, the timeline for completion is set by the instructor. If the instructor does not have the time for a full quality review, we encourage reaching out to eLearning & Instructional Support for a more casual self-directed opportunity.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License