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Peer course review process at SUNY Canton

Canton, College of Technology at


At SUNY Canton, all new online, hybrid, and flex courses are required to be peer reviewed prior to their delivery. All existing online, hybrid, and flex courses have to be reviewed every 3 years to ensure their adherence to course design best practices, accessibility, and copyright requirements. Courses are reviewed with the focus on instructional design rather than the subject matter.

A governance committee consisting of faculty members who review courses, instructional designers, who have a consultative role, and an administrative support employee is charged with the online course review. There are two course review cycles each year, with an option of a third one.

Faculty self-select to become members of the committee with the typical commitment period of two years. When there is a need for more reviewers, the committee puts out a call for volunteer reviewers.

The committee uses a governance-approved course quality review rubric based on the SUNY OSCQR rubric. The rubric contains 50 standards that are divided into two main categories – essential and suggested standards. Each standard is assigned a point value; essential standards are assigned six points, while suggested standards are further divided into four-point and two-point standards based on their impact on course quality.

Two main areas where edits to the original SUNY OSCQR rubric were made to address the needs of SUNY Canton consist of minor standards text edits and their associated “Need Ideas” inspirational content, and the point assignment with an approved/not approved cut off. Even though the campus aims at continuous improvement rather than perfection, there is a threshold that all courses must reach to be included in the course catalog.

Each course is reviewed by two faculty members who individually award points for each standard. For a course to pass the review, it must receive a score of 100% on essential standards AND the minimum of 83% on suggested standards. For each standard that is not met, reviewers provide detailed feedback on how to improve the course quality.

If a course does not meet the approval requirements, the course is returned to the course developer, who then addresses the reviewers’ feedback and resubmits the course for re-review. In the event a course does not pass a second review, an instructional designer is assigned to work closely with the course developer on ensuring the course meets the missing standards.

Courses are developed or revised in a separate course shell for tracking purposes. Each development course shell template contains pre-designed items that make it easier for course developers to meet OSCQR standards. During the development process, course developers have access to instructional designers, technologists, librarians, and accessibility professionals.

Before they start their course design or revision process, faculty are encouraged to attend Course Design Institute provided by the College’s Center for Learning Design, Innovation, and Online Instruction that focuses on topics related to course design and instruction, and specifically on meeting the OSCQR standards. The Institute’s two parts focus on technical aspects of course design, as well as instructional design best practices.

SUNY Canton’s peer course review process originated from a need for online course quality assurance. All online courses in which students are able to enroll need to be pedagogically sound and they need to use basic course design best practices to enable students to focus on the subject matter instead of trying to battle navigational and technical challenges. In an effort to make the process as objective and subject matter agnostic as possible, the campus decided to adopt SUNY OSCQR rubric and adapt it to campus needs.

In addition to ensuring online course quality, the process fulfills also an educational function. During this peer process, reviewing faculty educate themselves on instructional design best practices that they can later use to develop their own courses. Faculty are also exposed to a variety of course design practices their colleagues use, which can be inspiring and has a potential to create meaningful collaborative opportunities.

Even though understanding of course design best practices and the review process does not come naturally to all, all benefit from immersing themselves in the process. The campus has a catalog of high-quality online courses, and faculty devote more time reflecting on improving their courses.

Additional Metrics:

The course review process aims to ensure high quality and student-friendliness of online, hybrid, and flex course offerings at SUNY Canton. Course design is one of the pillars of student success and retention, which is our ultimate goal. The course review process monitors the course quality and educates faculty course developers on best practices.

The course review process is relatively new to our campus. It has been continuously edited and tweaked to procedurally better align with the campus needs, which is the reason why any data that has been collected cannot be generalized yet.

21 reviews of this entry
5.0 rating based on 21 ratings
5.0 rating based on 21 ratings

  1. This review process has more qualification points than one would have thought if you are on the outside. Very high standards, but then this is why SUNY Canton online courses are very successful.