Quality Matters Monday: Standard 7.3 & 7.4
It’s Quality Matters Monday! Each Monday, we highlight a Quality Matters standard and review its importance in an online course and how we evaluate this standard.
Today, we are reviewing Quality Matters Standards 7.3 & 7.4
General Standard 7 addresses Learner Support.
These standards address the importance of including information, and links regarding academic support services (7.3), and student services (7.4) for learners at the institutional level.
· QM General Standard 7 highlights the importance of including institutional support for learners alongside course-specific information. Because materials pertaining to student support are most likely already included on a general university/departmental web page, it may be tempting to skip its inclusion in your course altogether. However, as QM points out, incorporating institutional support materials has proven results for increasing individual student success rates, and overall departmental retention.
· As mentioned above, we’ll be addressing standards 7.3 & 7.4., which note the respective differences between academic support services and student services, along with why they’re important. Academic support services can include, but are not limited to information such as library resources, testing services, tutoring, supplemental instruction programs, teaching assistant support, and so forth. In other words, these are resources made available to students by the university that are designed to assist students with their course work and study habits. On the other hand, student services relate to general information that enable students to make the best, informed decisions in order to navigate and progress their overall academic career (e.g. career counseling, financial aid, academic advising, personal counseling, etc.). Since both sources of information are important for face-to-face and online learners, here’s a few things to consider:
o As we discussed for QM standard, 7.2, the best starting point is to actually locate what resources are available to students, and to understand them for yourself. Your department/college may already have a list of go-to services and resources that are listed on a web-page. If not, do some digging. Don’t be afraid to approach your fellow colleagues, chair, curriculum manager, or library liaison for advice or ideas.
o From all the service information you find available, you’ll want to be judicious in picking those things that specifically apply to your course. Some kinds of services are universal and are always worth mentioning, such as tutoring, academic advising, etc., while others are very course specific: style-writing guides, glossaries and testing centers. For example, if your course doesn’t include writing projects, it might not learners to include a link to your university library’s writer’s guide. Don’t overwhelm students with unneeded information.
o It’s always worth mentioning that one of the most important parts of instructional design is thinking about content placement. Where should you include information about learner services? As we talked about with QM standard 7.2, students should always be made aware of this information during one of their ‘first stops’ when logging into the course for the first time (e.g. course syllabus, ‘start here’ page, policy folder, etc.), that way they’re made aware of all the resources available to them, and can plan accordingly as early as possible.
o Lastly, never forget to link to the information listed! It’s not worth mentioning to your students if you don’t leave breadcrumbs that will help them find their way to the source. Also, including contact information to departments/individuals that can assist students is always a plus.
AP Guidance: Are your students able to easily locate the accessibility information and services they need in order to be successful in your course? In order to meet QM standard 7.3 & 7.4, remember the following things:
1) Search for services– Make sure you’re aware of the basic services available from your institution that can benefit your students. If you’re not, start scouring your university network, or ask colleagues/student resource reps for answers.
2) Relay relevant information– To maximize student success, keep a lean list of the resources most relevant to your course.
3) Pick a place– Find a place in your course to insert this information that students will encounter early on.
4) List your links– Always link out to the service information you provide, and don’t forget to include contact information so learners can have access to the support they need.
*Thinking ahead and outside-the-box: Prior to the start of the semester, you might think about including a dedicated discussion board or wiki that will allow students to share useful information they find regarding support services with one another. Consider reviewing these resource once the course has concluded, and including them for future students the following semester.
Click here to access Quality Matters eLearning Marketplace. The Quality Matters eLearning Marketplace is a free, searchable database built to serve the broad QM community with an easy-to-use eLearning product/service directory organized within the 8 general standards of the rubric as well as by user and product categories.