By Elyse Pitkin

Recently, Hiram College was reviewed and approved by Quality Matters on their course titled, titled INTD 32650: Exploring Ability and Disability Through Performance: Autism Spectrum Disorders. The team-taught course was designed and created in 2013 by former psychology faculty member, Dr. Amber Chenoweth, and Online Learning Manager, Dr. Brittany L. Jackson ’04, M.A. ’15. This class explores disability through the power of literature and performing arts, focusing on the theme of autism spectrum disorders.

The Exploring Ability and Disability Through Performance course was originally taught in person. However, in 2017, the course was developed to also be a fully online, team-taught, interdisciplinary course. The course has been taught in both formats since 2015 and has been instructed by its creators, along with other Hiram College faculty members, Kelly Bancroft, Dr. Kelly Newvine, and Dr. Nick Hirsch over the years.

Hiram Students will engage the topic of autism through the exploration of literature and scientific papers, discussions with medical providers and families who care for people with autism, and personal interactions with people who have autism. This research provides students with a comprehensive overview of autism spectrum disorder and the experiences of people who live with it daily. After the interview process, students work with the material they collected to create a short performance piece that captures issues surrounding autism spectrum disorder and engages audiences with the topic.

According to QM, the designation is “tied to the fully online version of the course. Quality Matters is a nonprofit organization comprised of a dedicated staff that works together virtually—from cities all over the United States—to support everyone’s quality assurance goals. Courses that carry the QM Certification mark have met QM Standards at a level of 85% or greater in an official review process. Certification is valid for three to five years depending on the QM Rubric used to review the course. Recertification allows the original QM Certification to be extended for up to three more years.”

QM Standards and review processes are “recognized nationally and internationally for being supported by research and based on best practices. The data obtained from course reviews can ultimately inform the review and certification of quality for entire programs. These certifications demonstrate a commitment, not only to creating an environment of excellence and quality, but of maintaining that commitment.”

Hiram is working towards bringing more courses up to be QM-certified as it continues to build online offerings. 2004 and 2015 Hiram College alumna, Dr. Jackson, currently acts as Hiram College’s QM Coordinator, QM Course Review Manager, and also holds other QM certifications, such as QM Peer Reviewer (Higher Ed & K-12 & Publisher), QM Master Reviewer (Higher Ed & K-12 & Publisher), QM Program Certification Reviewer (Higher Ed), QM Certified Face-to-Face Facilitator for the APPQMR and INTRO2 QM workshops, and QM Certified Online Facilitator for the APPQMR and INTRO2 QM workshops.

About Hiram College:
Founded in 1850, Hiram College provides students of all backgrounds an attainable private education that teaches the 21st-century skills needed to thrive professionally and personally in the face of inevitable and constant change. Built on a community that fosters student-faculty collaboration, the College equips all students with the tools necessary to embrace active learning in the classroom, in Ohio, and beyond through technology, internship, study away, research, and other experiential opportunities for growth and development. Recognized by Colleges of Distinction, The Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report, and as a top baccalaureate college by Washington Monthly, Hiram enrolls over 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students in academic programs on its Northeast Ohio campus and online. For more information, please visit

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