Group of Online Spanish Courses Earn National Recognition for Quality

Hilda Benton's four online Spanish courses earn national quality recognition.
Russell Cothren

Hilda Benton's four online Spanish courses earn national quality recognition.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – All four online Spanish courses offered by the University of Arkansas in the basic language sequence are now certified as meeting quality standards set by a nationally recognized organization.

Quality Matters, a national leader in quality assurance, recently certified Elementary Spanish II as meeting its quality standards. The course is the fourth in the undergraduate Spanish sequence to become QM certified.

The U of A – committed to high-quality education for its students – began QM training for online faculty and instructors in 2012. The U of A, through the Global Campus, submitted its first course for QM review in 2016. Since then, six courses have earned QM certification. The four Spanish courses are the first series of courses in one subject to be certified.

“Thanks to the dedication of faculty and instructors, we are gaining momentum in this ongoing process to earn independent validation of the quality of U of A online courses,” said Donald Judges, interim director of distance education. “Continuous improvement in online education and student learning is a high priority at the U of A. The Quality Matters process helps us achieve this goal.”

Hilda Benton, an instructor in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, worked with Ken Muessig, an instructional designer at the Global Campus, to prepare her four Spanish courses to meet quality standards.

“As an instructor, I am proud to offer my students a high-quality course that provides them with the necessary tools to effectively communicate and function in a bilingual environment,” Benton said. “All students deserve a positive, challenging and fun environment in which to motivate them and help them succeed at becoming proficient in the language we are teaching.”

Quality Matters is a faculty-centered, peer-review process designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. It has received national recognition for its scalable, peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning.

“Hilda Benton has not only been instrumental in the creation and refinement of our online offerings, but she has also put us at the forefront of the Global Campus’s efforts to reach the high standards that Quality Matters certification for our courses represents,” said Steven Bell, chair of the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

“World Languages now offers a total of some 75 credit hours of online courses available across the various formats,” Bell said. “It has been great for us to be able to count on the very knowledgeable assistance of Global Campus folks such as Miran Kang, Ken Muessig, and the rest of the instructional design team for the development of our online offerings.”

In January, U.S. News and World Report recognized the university’s online undergraduate, graduate education and graduate engineering programs in its “Best Online Programs” rankings. Online programs are showcased on the University of Arkansas ONLINE website.

QUALITY MATTERS REVIEW PROCESS

All U of A online courses developed through the Global Campus since 2012 adhere to the 21 essential standards defined by the Quality Matters rubric. Instructional designers also encourage faculty to incorporate the other eight important and 14 very important QM rubric standards.

The QM rubric helps faculty design, assess and enhance courses based on learning objectives, assessment, measurement, learner interaction, accessibility and usability. QM updates the rubric every two to three years, based on extensive literature review and surveys.

During the course review process, a three-person QM team assesses each course, and then sends feedback about whether that course meets the standards. If the course doesn’t meet the standards, the faculty member has the option to revise the course and sends it back to Quality Matters for a final review.

PARTICIPATE IN ONLINE QUALITY ASSURANCE

Faculty interested in learning more about Quality Matters standards can take the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric workshop, a two-week online course offered by QM. Information about that workshop, QM course review, and how to become a QM reviewer are available on the Global Campus website.

 So far, 83 U of A faculty and instructors have participated, with 16 of them going on to complete an additional online course to become QM Certified Peer Reviewers. Both Benton and Muessig are QM certified peer reviewers.

To qualify for QM review, a U of A course must have been developed in collaboration with the Global Campus after spring 2012 and must have been taught for at least three terms. The Global Campus pays the QM review cost for courses.

Faculty and instructors interested in submitting their courses for QM review should send their requests to qm@uark.edu.

About the Global Campus: The Global Campus supports U of A colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online programs and courses. It provides instructional design services, technology services and assistance with marketing, recruiting and strategic academic development.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Steve Bell, associate professor and department chair
World Languages, J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
479-575-5948, sbell@uark.edu

Kay Murphy, director of communications
Global Campus
479-575-6489, ksmurphy@uark.edu


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