Delving Deeper Into the Research: Follow-up Q & A to the ‘QM — Now What?’ Webinar

One of Quality Matters’ best resources is our community. We share and collaborate to help each other grow in our online endeavours and to ensure quality learning experiences for learners everywhere. Recently, QM Members Yingjie Liu from San Jose State University and Patrick Dempsey from The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School shared the results of their study on the role QM Professional Development plays in course design. Their webinar generated a lot of discussion and we were unable to cover all of the questions during the webinar. To ensure that our community has all of the information they need, here are the answers to the questions we were unable to get to.

1. How many universities were included in the study’s sample, and how many IDs participated? 

  • 102 faculty from 23 California State University campuses were included in the QM use study

  • 112 instructional designers from more than 30 universities across the U.S. participated in the ID study

2. What were your study questions, and may I use slides from your study to show to administrators at my institution?

We were interested in finding out the challenges our QM faculty have and best practices for engaging them. You can link to the study questions and results at RevealEd in the QM: Now What presentation. We encourage you to share with the administrators at your institution.

3. I’m confused about IDs not being technical experts. Can you explain and give an example?

Many IDs are technical experts, but we believe we (IDs) are not solely technical support and can do more, especially with our expertise in course design. Our study findings suggest that faculty are more interested in getting technical support from IDs. So, one way IDs can generate faculty buy-in is to use their technical support expertise to engage faculty, with the goal of eventually being able to contribute more of their time and knowledge to course design.

4. Do you have faculty who refuse to make changes?

There are faculty who are not ready to make changes at this moment. Remember, “time” is their biggest challenge. Proposing “minor” technical changes to them will help them save time. One minor change at a time. This helps IDs gain trust and buy-in. The relationship between IDs and faculty is a long-term one that needs to be developed and may not take place overnight.

5. Did you face any situations where IDs or faculty themselves were making efforts to achieve QM Standards, but they were being hindered by institutional or managerial red tape? If so, did you obtain any information on how they managed to attain the standards despite the upper-level resistance?

We did find that the biggest challenges to success were institutional. So, if we can use data and student outcomes as evidence to back up our QM approach - and use the key words “retention” and “student success” - we have a better chance of helping upper-level administrators understand why we need QM. 

6. Is the data from your study being presented to higher-ups in support of IDs?

We hope our study can help our ID colleagues when presented to their administrators. We have heard from several attendees of our various presentations who have used the presentations to at least start a discussion and would love to get feedback on how those discussions go. Visit RevealEd or write to us: Yingjie Liu and Patrick Dempsey

Several webinar participants also inquired about the tie between course design quality and learner success/outcomes. Some time spent with QM Research will reward you with a variety of resources, but here are a few to start with:

  • The QM Impact Summary describes the impact of QM in the context of the other aspects of a quality online course, the level of QM implementation at an institution or in an online program, and how QM professional development and course reviews have shown impact.
  • This is a list of curated resources that all have a QM focus, including some that relate to student retention and student satisfaction. One of these is a longitudinal study by Dr. Suzan Harkness at the University of the District of Columbia. Dr. Harkness documented the percent change in student outcomes pre/post QM 2007-2012 (N=1,570):
    • Course withdrawal - down 23.53%
    • Pass class grade A - D - up 19.74%
    • Final class grade of F - down 66.66%
  • The Online Learner Bill of Rights video and the link to the accompanying study discusses student expectations for their online courses, which match up with the QM Rubric Standards.
  • The QM Research Library allows for a keyword search to show research references related to various aspects of online course quality.

If you have been tracking learner outcomes related to your quality efforts, let us know, and we will share your findings with the QM Community. Please email