New Office to Centralize Faculty Support in Instruction and Assessment

New Office to Centralize Faculty Support in Instruction and Assessment

By Johnny CruzUniversity Communications
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Debra Tomanek
Debra Tomanek

University of Arizona faculty members now have a central resource when seeking assistance in the areas of teaching, assessment and technology.

The new Office of Instruction and Assessment, known as OIA, will offer support to the UA teaching community in course and curriculum design, online course development, program and classroom assessment and evaluation, instructional strategies and learning technologies.

Debra Tomanek, UA professor of molecular and cellular biology and an adviser with the College of Science Teacher Preparation Program, has been selected to lead the new office. 

Several units and positions – including the University Teaching Center, the Learning Technologies Center and the office of the director of assessment – will merge as part of the establishment of the new office. They will be located in a central campus location, the Integrated Learning Center.

Following the elimination of the UA Office of the Vice President for Instruction in the spring of 2009, the Task Force on Undergraduate Education was established to review the resources faculty members need to be successful in instruction and assessment.

The task force, which included faculty members and students, recommended the creation of the new office.

"It is expected that forming this office will allow the University to reduce duplicative efforts, serve more of our teaching faculty and more holistically support instruction both on campus, and through hybrid models and online," according to a report issued by the task force.

"The collaborative nature of the units on campus has been truly phenomenal," said Gail Burd, vice provost for academic affairs. "Everyone has worked together without ego and for the good of the institution."

As assistant vice provost for the Office of Instruction and Assessment, Tomanek is responsible for leading the merged units and effectively transitioning them to fulfill the office's mission of supporting teaching faculty.

"The mission of this new unit is to build capacity for excellence in teaching and assessment of student learning," Tomanek said. "It is the capacity-building part of this mission that is particularly important to me."  

No new funds or positions have been allocated for the unit.

Members of the Office of Instruction and Assessment will collaborate with University Information Technology Services, the UA Libraries, the Outreach College, the Curriculum Office, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support and other departments on matters related to instruction, assessment and technology.

"This office will help faculty be better instructors," said Burd, "and that should improve student learning."

Tomanek said it is fairly rare among universities to find a department focused on building capacity for teaching, effective use of educational technologies, and assessment, all in one unit. "We have an opportunity to build something that is a national model."

The employees of the new office are expected to relocate to the Integrated Learning Center by the end of January.

In the coming weeks, the new office will provide additional information about the process for requesting services. 

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