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November 28, 2001
Vol. 28, No. 13



A Class Act: Informal Classes marks 30th anniversary

Director of Health & Safety says to exercise caution, but keep things in perspective

UT Press offers scholarly books about Middle East

UT and LULAC develop Austin Youth Leadership Academy

Advancements in disease research, mathematical theory take honors at Siemens competition

$7.2 million grant funds medical research

Marketing professor's research blends expertise in music industry, electronic commerce

New division to enhance teaching effectiveness, learning opportunities

Four teams to compete in MOOT CORP finals

Eckhardt continues to safeguard campus history six years after his death

Norma Cantú brings expertise into classroom

$2.15 NSF grant to improve production of oil, gas

Research team discovers mechanism regulating plant growth

Engineers harness "quantum dots" for neurological research

Orange Santa program makes season brighter

Readership Survey

Anti-terrorism expert calls for increased steps to combat terrorism

Arete: Jessica J. Summers

School of Social Work gets funding for substance abuse research

A salute to military veterans, POWs, MIAs




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New division charged with enhancing teaching effectiveness, learning opportunities

By Nancy Neff

A new division designed to improve teaching effectiveness, particularly in large classes, has been established at The University of Texas at Austin.

The idea for the new 60-person Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment emerged from faculty-and-staff-initiated proposals on how the university might improve teaching effectiveness, curricular offerings and assessment on campus, said Executive Vice President and Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson. The new division is combining the resources of three university centers — the Center for Teaching Effectiveness, the Measurement and Evaluation Center, and the Center for Instructional Technologies.


Judy Ashcroft has been appointed by the provost as division director and associate vice president. Ashcroft is former director of the university's Distance Education Center, where she was instrumental in developing technology-enhanced curriculum and services.

"As we get the division organized and off the ground, we are launching a grand endeavor guided by some of the very best staff and faculty colleagues on campus," Ekland-Olson said.

"The division will play a central role in working with faculty and students to develop innovative instructional materials and to engage students in courses and programs over the next several years," he said. "This includes development of technology-assisted distance education offerings as well as enhanced capabilities for more traditional campus-based offerings."


One proposal being discussed is increased multimedia training for students. By maximizing the use of the multimedia lab for training students in multimedia and interactive media and certifying their proficiencies, the division would create a pool of students who can help departments and colleges with interactive media, from supporting Web sites to helping create enhanced teaching materials, Ashcroft said.

The new division also will be paying particular attention to how the university might better teach large classes — 200 or more students, Ekland-Olson said. "And, we are looking at how we might better organize such programs as the Business Foundations initiative and how we can enrich our connections with public school teachers across the state," he said. The Business Foundations program offers six business courses as a supplement to an undergraduate degree. It provides a foundation for business concepts and practices for non-business majors who plan to enter the work force or a graduate degree program.

"The division is asked to think intentionally and creatively about supporting the university in its mission," Ashcroft said. "As a division, we are to do what we can to help faculty to be the best teachers, to help students be successful learners and to measure outcomes and effectiveness."

In addition to supporting the instructional mission of the university, the division also was established to provide a comprehensive portfolio of instructional support services, including faculty development, evaluation, assessment and support for projects using instructional technologies.

The division will develop methods to provide educational testing, evaluate student learning, evaluate educational courses and academic programs, and assess instructional methods.

It also will coordinate university Web-based outreach efforts as they relate to continuing and extended education, courses offered through the UT TeleCampus and initiatives linking university programs with K-12 campuses, students and teachers.

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