College of Nursing Courses First at UA to Earn Quality Matters Certification

Jan 11, 2016

Two online doctoral courses offered through the University of Arizona College of Nursing have become the first at the UA to achieve Quality Matters (QM) certification, a national benchmark for online and blended course design.

QM is a faculty-driven, peer review process designed to improve course design using a rubric consisting of eight general standards and 43 specific review standards that research has shown lead to improved student engagement and learning outcomes. The focus for QM is not on the content of the course, but on the design of the course.

“At the UA, the College of Nursing has been a long-time leader in online education,” said Janet Smith, quality assurance coordinator at the UA Office of Digital Learning. “The faculty and staff commitment to course quality and the collaborative peer process is demonstrative of the excellence we seek to embed in every facet of the UA Online learning environment.”

Online degree programs have been offered through the UA College of Nursing since 2006, and currently include Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership (RN-MSN).

The courses that received QM certification are Molecular and Clinical Genetics and Genomics (NUR 644) taught by Dr. Matthew J. Gallek, assistant professor, and Methods for Scholarly Inquiry (NUR 652) taught by Dr. Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, associate professor. Both courses are required for all students in the DNP program, which has the largest enrollment at the college.

“Through this process, I was able to make my course easier for students to use by improving the navigation and ensuring that expectations set at the beginning of the course were met by the end,” said Dr. Gallek. “The real key to success was the strong collaboration I had with our instructional designers.”

Drs. Gallek and Taylor-Piliae both credit UA and College of Nursing instructional design specialists Adam Brokamp, Matthew Romanoski and Paula Galvin for helping them achieve QM certification. At the College of Nursing, the eventual goal is to have all doctoral courses meet QM criteria.

According to Smith, at the university level, the goal is to have 30 percent of UA Online courses go through an internal QM review, and up to 5 percent go through an external review for certification. She expects approximately 15 courses to undergo internal review this spring.

The UA is a member of the QM program through a statewide consortium of universities and community colleges in Arizona. UA faculty interested in pursuing QM certification should visit and contact Smith at


About the University of Arizona College of Nursing

At the University of Arizona College of Nursing, faculty members envision, engage and innovate in education, research and practice to help people of all ages optimize health in the context of major life transitions, illnesses, injuries, symptoms and disabilities. Established in 1957, the college ranks among the top nursing programs in the United States.