OSCQR Rubric for Online Courses


Introduction to OSCQR

  1. What is OSCQR?
  2. How did UCA decide on OSCQR?
  3. Timeline of OSCQR Rollout
  4. Download the OSCQR Rubric (PDF)

The OSCQR Review Process

  1. Existing Courses
  2. New Course Builds
  3. Accessibility/Compliance Checklist

Roles of the Participants

  1. Faculty
  2. Chair/Director or Appointed Peer Reviewer
  3. Instructional Designer

Additional Help and Information

  1. How to Use the OSCQR Website
  2. Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

What is OSCQR?

oscqr logoThe OSCQR (Online SUNY Course Quality Review) Rubric was developed through collaboration of campuses in the State University of New York system. The goal of OSCQR is to: “…ensure that all online courses meet quality instructional design and accessibility standards, and are regularly and systematically reviewed, refreshed, and improved to reflect campus guidelines and research-based online effective practices.” It is a rubric that is NOT evaluative; there is no review of content, as the OSCQR rubric focuses on course design and learner-centered course delivery. It is a rubric that can be used as a guide for building new courses or a tool that can help show how existing courses can be continually improved.

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How did UCA decide on OSCQR?

In the Fall of 2019, a group of chairs/directors representing different colleges and departments/schools at UCA, alongside the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Academic Leadership (CETAL, formerly CTE), came together to discuss how to support quality online teaching at the University. This group was charged by the Council of Deans to develop a process that empowers the faculty to continually improve their online courses and ensures that courses are meeting federal and accreditation standards. Among those standards, three key priorities include:

  1. Regular and substantive faculty-to-student interaction (HLC & USDE Accreditation requirement)
    • “Regular and substantive interaction” (RSI) can be confusing and rather vague. This could be for multiple reasons, but WCET has done a great job diving deeper into how best to interpret this federal definition of distance education. The current interpretation after July 1, 2021, states that:
      • Interaction: mostly instructor initiated, with some leeway
      • Instructor: explicit reliance on accreditor approval
      • Substantive: has a list of activities (instruction, assessment, tutoring, answering questions)
      • Regular: predictable and scheduled and tracking and intervention
  2. Courses and materials being fully accessible (ADA requirement)
  3. Minimizing design barriers for all learners (UDL best practices)

The working group initially compared four well-respected rubrics, including Blackboard Exemplary Course, California Community College Course Design, Online SUNY Course Quality Review (OSCQR), and Quality Matters. After examining each item from each rubric, they selected their most valued traits from all four, ultimately realizing that 98% of those traits overlapped with the OSCQR Rubric. After spending several months trying to create a UCA-specific rubric, the group determined it was suffering from “Not Invented Here Syndrome” and decided to adopt the OSCQR Rubric for continuous course improvement at UCA. The OSCQR Rubric was presented to the chairs and directors of UCA during the annual Chair’s Retreat in the Summer of 2020.

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Timeline of Rollout

  • Fall 2020 – To better understand the unique cultures of each college/department, CETAL meets with chairs and directors to cultivate a plan for OSCQR education and timeline of rollout.
  • Spring 2021 to Fall 2021 – CETAL begins introduction of OSCQR rubric to departments and schools in conjunction with the Chair/Director. Faculty who would like to become early adopters / pilot testers will begin to work with CETAL to implement the OSCQR process at UCA.
  • Fall 2021 to Present – Courses are reviewed using the OSCQR rubric in multiple departments and schools on a regular, scheduled basis.

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Download OSCQR Rubric

You can view/download the OSCQR rubric PDF at the following link: OSCQR Course Design Rubric 4.0

Also, make sure you view the OSCQR website to view each standard in detail.

During a full OSCQR review, an interactive version of the OSCQR rubric (complete with notes and descriptions, links, and more) will be used by the faculty member, instructional designer, and peer reviewer and will culminate with a compiled document bringing all of the standards and recommendations together into a single worksheet. Those ready to get started with a full review can submit a request anytime.

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The OSCQR Review Process

The OSCQR review process is done as a collaboration between three individuals: (1) the faculty member whose course is being reviewed, (2) their chair/director, or chair/director-appointed peer reviewer, and (3) an instructional designer from CETAL. The review process should be completed in the semester it is being reviewed or across two sequential semesters as agreed upon by all three parties involved. While OSCQR is non-evaluative in nature, some accessibility and compliance criteria are built into the rubric to ensure that each online course meets ADA and HLC standards for online instruction. These are legally required criteria for all online courses. These particular standards are denoted with icons denoting it is an accessibility standard or a regular and substantive interaction (RSI) standard. The instructional designer will review these criteria for each course going through the OSCQR process. If any of the criteria are not sufficiently met, those items need to be addressed before the class is offered online again. Overall, it is at the discretion of the department chair/school director in consultation with their dean and the Office of the Provost to determine whether a course will be taught based on any accessibility and/or compliance items not being sufficiently met.

For existing courses:

  1. Faculty member submits a request on the CETAL website for an OSCQR course review. Alternatively, CETAL creates a master schedule for each academic year in consultation with chairs and directors and then contacts faculty accordingly.
  2. An instructional designer will set up a meeting with all involved parties to discuss the scope of the project, review the process, establish a timeline to completion, answer any questions about the OSCQR process and its standards, and determine next steps. During this meeting, the faculty member, in conjunction with their chair/director, can decide on the scope of the review. They can choose to do a full review or a review that breaks up the six standards over no more than two sequential fall/spring semesters.
  3. Each party will review the course independently, using the interactive OSCQR rubric. After each reviewer has completed their review, all three parties will meet together to review the rubric and decide a plan on how the course can be improved moving forward.
    • Any accessibility or regular and substantive interaction (RSI) criterion that is not sufficiently met in the review should be addressed first before the course is offered again to students.

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For new course builds:

  1. Faculty member submits a request on the CETAL website for a course design consultation.
  2. The instructional designer will set up an initial course design consultation with the faculty member. During this meeting, the ID and instructor will set up a course design plan, keeping the standards of the OSCQR rubric at the forefront and establishing a timeline for completion.
  3. Before the course is ready for students, the instructional designer will complete the accessibility/compliance check of the course using the associated criteria of the OSCQR rubric. Any accessibility or RSI criterion that is not sufficiently met in the review should be addressed first before the course is offered again to students.
  4. After the course has been taught at least 2 semesters, CETAL recommends going through the full OSCQR Process for existing courses for continuous course improvement.

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Accessibility/Compliance Checklist

Accessibility is a necessity in all online courses at UCA for Section 508 Compliance and Universal Design for Learning standards. This is how UCA defines accessibility according to the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services website: 

“Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, program, service, resource, or environment is available to a given user. Information and communication technology is considered accessible if it can be used as effectively by people with disabilities as it can by those without disabilities. Comparable access to information must be provided, taking the needs of all users and learners into account. True accessibility provides for not just the sightless and the hearing impaired but also the color blind, those prone to seizures, and people with physical limitations that require keyboard navigation rather than the use of a mouse. It is essential that the web and content are accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities.”

With every OSCQR review process, the instructional designer and reviewers will complete an embedded accessibility and compliance check (labeled and visualized as either ADA or RSI standards on the OSCQR Rubric) to ensure that the course meets the accessibility requirements of the ADA, the Higher Learning Commission, and the regular and substantive interaction (RSI) requirement of the U.S. Department of Education. These standards should be considered the highest priority on what needs to be corrected first after a course has finished the review. The instructional designer will work with the faculty member on methods and solutions to meet the accessibility standards and document the regular and substantive interaction (RSI) that are detailed in the rubric.

As previously stated, it is the discretion of the department’s chair, not CETAL, whether a course will be taught based on any accessibility or compliance items not being sufficiently met.

To view these items specifically, go to the Accessibility and Compliance Checklist.

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Roles of Participants

1. Faculty

  • The faculty member, in consultation with their Chair or Director, will choose a course they want to go through the review process and submit a request via the CETAL website.
  • Faculty members will self-review their course using the OSCQR rubric.
  • Faculty members will meet with the ID and Chair (or appointed peer reviewer) to review the results and make an action plan on how to address the findings moving forward.

2. Chair/Director or Appointed Peer Reviewer

  • The Chair or Director will work with the faculty member in deciding which course among those the faculty member teaches will be scheduled for review.
  • The Chair or Director (or appointed peer reviewer) will review the course independently using the OSCQR rubric.
  • The Chair or Director will meet with the ID and faculty member to review the results and assist in making an action plan on how to address the findings moving forward.

3. Instructional Designer (ID)

  • The ID will set up an initial meeting with the faculty member and Chair/Director (and/or appointed peer reviewer) once a course review request has been received.
  • The ID will independently review the course using the OSCQR Rubric.
  • During the post-review meeting with the faculty member and peer reviewer, the ID will work with the faculty member to develop a strategy on how to best strengthen the course moving forward.
  • The ID will assume the role of a consultant and project manager: brainstorming ideas, sharing best practices, and giving feedback on possible course improvements. Final decisions about how to proceed are determined by the faculty member in consultation with the Chair/Director. The ID will also be the point person for ensuring the process is completed in the chosen timeframe.

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Walkthrough of OSQCR Website

The OSCQR website is a rich resource that walks the user through the different categories and standards of the OSCQR rubric. Each standard has its own page that explains it in detail, the research behind it, along with examples on how to implement the standard. The video below will show you how to best navigate through the vast resources the website provides its users.

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Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

Q: If I teach an online course at UCA, is it required that I must go through the OSCQR Process?

A: No. Currently, the OSCQR Process is a volunteer process that can be requested by the Department Chair or a faculty member. For the best course possible, we would recommend any faculty member who wants to improve their course to go through the OSCQR Process, but no, it is not required. Secondly, the OSCQR Process is, in no way, a pass/fail assessment. It is a tool to facilitate conversation and specific action toward continuous improvement of courses. 

Q: I am building a new online course for an upcoming semester. Do I have to go through and “pass” the OSCQR Process to teach the course?

A: The OSCQR Process is not evaluative, so there is no “pass” or “fail.” It is designed to identify areas in your course that can be improved. For new online courses, CETAL recommends using the OSCQR rubric as a guide during the building process. This ensures all areas of quality course design are being considered throughout the process.

Q: Does CETAL dictate what courses can or should go online at UCA?

A: No. CETAL provides consultation with faculty members on how they can improve their online courses at UCA. We do not decide if an online course can be taught or not.

Q: What is an “accessibility/compliance check” and why is it required for new courses?

A: A checklist of these requirements can be found here. The chair/director and the dean are responsible for assuring the provost that courses are in compliance with accessibility and accreditation requirements. Performing this accessibility/compliance check on new courses ensures any necessary course adjustments to meet these requirements can be completed in a reasonable time frame as agreed upon by the instructor and/or chair or director.

Q: After submitting the Course Conversion to Online or Hybrid Delivery form, will CETAL reach out to the instructor teaching the course?

A: No. This form only approves the department to offer this course in an online and/or hybrid format. Once an instructor is assigned to teach a course online or as a hybrid, the instructor should set up a course design consultation with a CETAL instructional designer using this online form.

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