Quality Matters deepens collaboration among faculty

September 12, 2019 | Berkeley College

At the Berkeley College Online Faculty Symposium this year, the faculty’s efforts to elevate the level of excellence through certification of courses by Quality Matters (QM), the global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments, were recognized. Courses marked with QM Certification indicate they have met QM Course Design Standards in a rigorous evaluation process. “Quality is an important matter here,” Joseph Scuralli, DPS, Berkeley College Dean, Online, said. “Whether it is through certification by the United States Distance Learning Association, courses certified by QM, or working with our team of online chairs and faculty, our stnadards are centered on excellence.”

Barbara Monaghan, Associate Chair, Online, Math and Sciences, Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts and Academic Liaison for online course development, worked with Richard Schultz, PhD, Co-Chair, English, to develop two online courses collaboratively and in accordance with QM certification standards. “Writing through Literature,” a composition course, and “The American Experience,” a literature course, are now offered as blueprint courses online from the English department for any faculty member to work with and instruct.

Syllabus Content Arranged Thematically According to Faculty Areas of Expertise

“Because each faculty member has a different area of interest, we set up the syllabus outline using a thematic approach for each week, and invited faculty to contribute to a theme’s content in which they were particularly interested,” said Dr. Schultz. Topics covered in “The American Experience” course include Colonial Literature; Revolution, Age of Reason, Enlightenment; Romanticism & American Gothic; Transcendentalism; Native American; Realism; Naturalism; and Modernism. “The faculty teaching these courses are able to select the particular works of literature they wish to teach as long as they adhere to a given week’s theme. This allows instructors to enjoy a significant amount of academic freedom. They can teach to their strengths while shaping the course to fit students’ interests and abilities,” he added.

Professor Monaghan pointed out that one benefit to the student taking the blueprint course is that it includes contributions from a broad range of faculty who have varied areas of special expertise, so the student is able to learn from many experts, such as a professor who is a romanticist or one with knowledge rich in native and early America. “The students get to hear from different perspectives and authorities,” she said. In the fall 2019 semester students can choose from several literary works within each topic, allowing more flexibility and partnership with the faculty.

Quality Matters Certification Assures Consistent Student Outcome Measurements

“Student outcomes need to be measurable,” Professor Monaghan said. “The collaboratively developed or blueprint course created with input from several faculty members meets the standards for QM certification and allows faculty to feel more connected to the course content. They have a stake in it,” she added.

At Berkeley College, the English department makes adjustments in these courses as the fulltime and adjunct professors provide feedback. At the end, the faculty have a telephone conference about the courses. “Berkeley is very receptive to feedback and we are listening and making the changes,” Professor Monaghan said. “We ask what is working and what is not, and we change as we go. We make adjustments based on the students’ feedback.”

About Berkeley College
A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls more than 7,000 students – including more than 350 international students – in its Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers an MBA in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ.

Berkeley College has three New York campuses – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are four campuses – Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. For six consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.