Quinsigamond Community College Case Study


Quinsigamond Community College (QCC), founded in 1963, is a public, two-year community college located in Worcester, Massachusetts. QCC offers night, summer and online classes and offers more than 20 majors. The college has a total student enrollment of more than 8,100 for Spring 2014 of which more than 2,000 are taking online courses. A number of students are enrolled in transfer programs with the intent of continuing on to a four-year college or university through guaranteed-acceptance programs. The college employs over 700 full- and part-time faculty.

The online program started during the summer of 2001. QCC now has students taking over 10,000 online credit hours in over 40 different online courses each semester. The types of online courses range from less than 50 percent online delivery to 100% online delivery. Of the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts, QCC registered (taught) the most credits – more than 10,000 – online in the Fall 2012 semester. 

Quality Matters Professional Development at QCC

QCC became a Quality Matters (QM) subscriber in 2008 as part of a Statewide adoption of the Quality Matters Rubric for online course quality. QM interviewed Pat Schmohl, Dean of Distance Learning and Professional Development at QCC, about QCC and its experience with QM. Pat is QCC’s Institution Representative to QM. Prior to his appointment as Dean, Pat spent eight years as a member of QCC’s faculty. He has attended two QM Designing Your Online Course (DYOC) workshops, one in person and one online. Pat has adapted seven courses for online delivery. Each was a course in the Fire Science and Paramedic programs; these courses had limited publisher resources.  He used the tools he learned from the DYOC and elsewhere to link out to government web resources and other solutions to create an engaging course and improve QCC learner outcomes. 

What are the key elements in promoting QM adoption among faculty?

Pat wants QCC to deliver quality online instruction to its students.  QM uses research-based and published best practices to develop and continually improve a Rubric that helps faculty members design online courses. These courses, in turn, promote student learning and help improve understanding of course design overall.

QCC offers all its faculty opportunities to take QM’s Designing Your Online Course (DYOC) workshop and encourages new full time faculty to take the workshop before they begin teaching. Faculty approved to adapt courses for online teaching are provided with QM Rubric Workbooks for Higher Education. Faculty must successfully complete the DYOC workshop before developing the online course.

QCC has had one faculty member have their course reviewed. QCC changes its learning management system (LMS) to Blackboard, which slowed the push to ensure courses are QM reviewed. QCC has added the QM standards into Blackboard and will ask faculty to align content in their courses to the QM standards. 

How has QM been received by faculty?

Faculty members who have completed the DYOC workshop have praised the workshop and its facilitator’s leadership. QCC faculty would apprise administrators if the workshop wasn’t useful for improving pedagogy. Some faculty reported the experience as their first time taking an online course and being a student helped them understand potential concerns students could have.

QCC has started approving courses for online delivery based on the QM Rubric; this has helped tie in the DYOC workshop work into their online course designs.   

What professional development has your faculty taken?

QCC faculty members take the DYOC and the Applying the QM Rubric (APPQMR) workshops.  Soon the college will ask faculty to participate in their courses’ QM certification.

How has QM's professional development assisted in creating engaging online experiences? 

QM has given QCC faculty a standard to follow when designing their courses; without the Rubric their courses would lack information QCC students need to be successful.  

What makes QM's professional development different from other professional development?

QM offers flexible online instruction that faculty members from all areas of the college can use. Lessons help participants learn to deliver online, blended or face-to-face courses that promote student learning.

What was your biggest challenge in using or implementing QM?

Upon completion of a course’s is design for the first time there is concern that QCC might not see faculty return for a refresher when the QM Rubric changes. The QM Rubric is slated to be updated in August 2014; QM will be providing an online Rubric Update free to the entire QM community explaining the differences between the 2011-13 Rubric and the Fifth Edition, 2014. QCC hopes its faculty will complete the online update.