The OSCQR Rubric

Reviewing and improving course quality and accessibility with a course design rubric.

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The SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric (OSCQR) is an openly licensed tool to assist instructors and instructional staff in reviewing courses for quality and effectiveness. The OSCQR uses empirical research to identify pedagogical best practices, provide formative feedback and help support continuous improvements. It can be used both as a guide to enhance existing courses and to develop new ones.

The OSCQR is divided into various sections that address a set of course design standards. The standards include elements related to course structure, technology, accessibility, content, activities, interactions, and assessment. 

Section 1: Overview and Information

The standards in this section highlight the necessity of orienting students and guiding them through the course. For example, welcoming students, establishing clear navigation and providing access to informational material including policies and resources. The final standards in this section address the syllabus and creating clear course objectives. 

Section 2: Course Technology and Tools

The standards in this section address students’ use of, and familiarity with, educational technologies. Elements include access, technical skills, scaffolding, privacy and accessibility of the technology required in the course. Transparently share these skills, information and requirements with students early on. 

Section 3: Design & Layout

The standards in this section focus on the accessibility levels of course content. For example, some elements clarity consistency and navigation such as “chunking” content to aid in information processing. This section also covers the necessity of thorough and well-written directions. Additionally, you will find best practices when developing text, tables and presentations to best support student learning.


If using UB Learns to share content, the Ally tool automatically checks course documents for accessibility. It also makes suggestions on how to increase accessibility as well as provides alternative formats for students. 

Learn more about Ally

Section 4: Content & Activities

The standards in this section address the types of activities and content that support how students learn best, those that emulate real world application and develop higher-order thinking skills. To help remove potential barriers, use free or low-cost materials such as Open Educational Resources when possible. Remember that course content should be accessible to all students and readable by assistive technologies.

Section 5: Interaction

The standards in this section address the classroom community including both student and instructor interactions. For example, establishing instructor presence and creating clear expectations for feedback and instruction. Further, learning is enhanced when classroom communities foster opportunities for positive peer interactions. 

Section 6: Assessment and Feedback

The standards in this section address assessments, grading and feedback. Assessments should happen regularly throughout the course and have clear grading policies and criteria. Keep in mind not all assessments will be graded, such as formative assessments or self-assessments. Further, this section covers the importance of gradebook availability for students to access, review and reflect on their learning. This section also states that students should have an opportunity to give the instructor feedback about their teaching methods and the course.