Task Force to Consider New Instructional Support Office

Task Force to Consider New Instructional Support Office

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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Photo of UA seal by Scott Kirkessner
Photo of UA seal by Scott Kirkessner

A new committee, established by The University of Arizona's Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, is examining ways in which the University can more effectively offer instructional support services to faculty on campus.

The Taskforce on Undergraduate Education, which met for the first time last week, is being asked to consider what instructional support services could be provided through the potential development of a new "Office of Undergraduate Education" or "Office of Undergraduate Instruction and Assessment."

The task force will look at ways to streamline instructional support services in such a way that faculty can find easily the resources they need to improve their teaching, to develop online or hybrid forms of instruction and to assess student learning, said Gail Burd, vice provost for academic affairs, who established the 21-member task force.

With faculty and staff representation from across campus, the task force will look specifically at a 2008 report by the UA's Synergy Team, which was established in 2007 by Jerrold Hogle, former interim vice president for instruction, to study possible "synergistic reorganization strategies" for the UA's Learning Technology Center, University Teaching Center, Room and Course Scheduling, and areas of the Integrated Learning Center.

Among the Synergy Team's findings were: significant overlap in some functions among the study's four target groups and other areas of campus; many faculty and administrators are unaware of the services offered by the four groups; and faculty often have difficulty securing technology equipment for classrooms. Recommended improvement strategies included reorganizing functions and developing more clearly articulated mission statements for units offering instructional support services and creating a survey to determine faulty needs.

The Taskforce on Undergraduate Education is effectively picking up where the Synergy Team left off, charged in part with making recommendations for potential reorganization of campus units that support instruction and assessment.  A report is due to the provost in July, with the intent to fill the position for oversight of the Office of Undergraduate Education by the start of the fall semester.

As part of the task force's efforts, an electronic survey is expected to be distributed to faculty sometime this summer to evaluate their desires and expectations related to teaching and technology support, Burd said.

"We have an opportunity to work toward providing what faculty need to be successful in the classroom," Burd said. "If we're going to serve them, we have to understand what they need."

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