Skip to main content

Quality Review

A focus on quality assurance and continuous improvement

This article applies to: Online and Blended Learning

Evaluating Online Courses

Cornell University is committed to excellence in all of its online learning offerings. A well-structured course provides students with a consistent navigation scheme and improves usability of content materials, assignments, and assessments. The evaluation of online courses involves many of the same criteria applied to traditional classroom courses, but also necessitates the use of new criteria more directly based on the online environment.

Cornell’s Quality Review Program

The Center for Teaching Innovation has developed a Quality Review Program that includes a process of evaluating online and blended courses using an Online Course Quality Checklist. The checklist is used to evaluate courses to ensure they align with quality standards related to accessibility, learner support, learner interaction, and the organization of instructional materials.

This checklist includes seven key items that are important to any course:

  • Course Overview and Introduction

  • Learning Outcomes (Competencies)

  • Assessments

  • Instructional Materials

  • Course Activities and Learner Interaction

  • General Policies and Support

  • Accessibility and Usability

Getting Started

Step 1: If you have taught or are planning to teach an online or blended course with an online component, submit your course for a Quality Review. This 2-4 week review process uses an adapted approach to the Quality Matters (QM) Rubric and ends with an Action Plan review. Use the form below to submit your course for review.

Note: If you are creating a new online course, contact us early in the process to include these key features while developing your course.

Step 2: After your quality review is complete, the Instructional Designer who reviewed your course will arrange to meet with you to discuss the review and the Action Plan/Recommendations related to next steps.

To learn more about our Online Course Review Program, contact us at:

For a more in-depth explanation of how to apply the standards, we suggest using the Quality Matters (QM) Rubric. Cornell University is a Quality Matters member, which enables you to freely access the QM Rubric.

Hear what our faculty are saying about the Quality Review process:

“It went very smoothly, and I appreciated that no one made me feel like the content or approach of my course was being questioned,” said Michael Fontaine, professor of classics.

“I found it useful,” said associate professor of psychology Vivian Zayas. “It’s important to get feedback from a more objective perspective. I also felt that the review process was a two-way street, and allowed for discussion.”


The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an initiative designed to safeguard distance-learning students and provide them with greater access to online courses, as well as to protect state and institutional interests.

Cornell became an approved SARA institution in February 2017. Read the full reciprocity agreement on the SARA website.

About this Article

Last updated: 

Monday, February 26, 2018 - 10:31am



Was this page helpful?

Your feedback helps improve the site.