Learner Impact by the Numbers: Florida International University

“Communication happens at every level. Emails are sent from the provost’s office, academic units and FIU Online.”Herminia Lezcano

One of Florida International University’s (FIU) chief strategic goals is to “ensure the highest level of course design quality, student engagement and success.” To help meet that goal, FIU became a QM member in 2011. Since that time, the University has made a significant investment in designing courses to meet QM Standards and in educating faculty and staff about best practices. To date:

  • 531 faculty and staff have created MyQM accounts — providing access to review tools.
  • 476 members of the University have participated in a QM professional development workshop.
  • 346 courses are QM-Certified — making FIU the leader in QM certifications within the state of Florida and second in the nation.

Herminia Lezcano, Quality Assurance Manager at Florida International University, says that overall Quality Matters helps FIU Online meet its goal by, “...guiding our department in the development, implementation and evaluation of best practices for online course design. It also provides a process and criteria for assessing educational quality that supports continuous improvement.” Specifically, though, she highlights the following changes that staff and faculty have implemented as a result of their professional development and course review experiences:

  • A master course template, based on the QM Rubric, was created and is applied to all fully online courses.
  • An alignment table showing the relationship between the course objectives, module objectives, assessments, assignments, instructional materials, and tools must be included in all new and redesigned courses.
  • Course and module learning objectives are created with measurability and alignment in mind.
  • QM Standards are used as a guide for the course design and development process.

Did their investment in quality pay off? And did it have a positive impact on the learner experience? FIU decided to find out and conducted a study — The Benefits of Quality Matters Certification: What the Analytics Reveal — comparing QM-Certified courses and non-certified courses. The results were very encouraging.

QM-Certified courses had:
  • 16% more student interactions.
  • 19% higher rate of student submissions.
  • 10% higher course accesses.
  • 12% higher course access minutes.
  • 51% higher course content item counts.
  • 58% more assessment opportunities for students.
  • 69% more tool items (on average, per course).
  • 7% higher marks on course evaluations.

Pleased to see the positive impact its efforts had on the learner experience, FIU continues to move forward with its quality assurance journey. Up next, according to Herminia, “[FIU] will conduct more Internal Reviews that will increase the amount of Quality Matters courses submitted for formal QM Certification.” The University is also preparing for Florida’s new initiative — Florida Online Quality Designation — where courses will be reviewed using the QM Rubric to meet Florida’s requirements for Quality and High-Quality designation for the State University System. As Herminia explains, “Course designations will be publicly displayed within the Florida Shines Online Course Catalog with a Quality or High-Quality designation. In preparation for the State’s initiative, our department has retrained all instructional designers and course developers using the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric workshop and sent them through the QM Higher Ed Peer Reviewer Course.”

FIU has created a solid plan to not only meet state requirements but to also ensure a quality learning experience for its online learners. But with so much going on, how does the University keep everyone in the loop? Herminia explains that communication is key, “Communication happens at every level. Emails are sent from the provost’s office, academic units and FIU Online. We also leverage our instructional designers to promote our internal initiatives as they are in constant communication with faculty and departments.”

If you’d like to share your own quality assurance journey, we’d love to hear about it! And don’t forget to share your story with others too. Check out, “Use Public Relations to Share QM Achievements,” for some great ideas on how you can spread the news about how you are impacting the learner experience.