Bridging Assessment and Instruction

New name. Same support.

Published September 8, 2021

In these past few weeks following our recent merger between the Office of Educational Effectiveness and the Center for Educational Innovation, I have been thinking hard about how to most effectively communicate what it is about our new office that will allow us to better serve the university.

“CATT provides a much better integration of assessment results with critical improvement efforts in areas like instruction and curricular design. ”

I have since settled on this very concise yet important point: CATT provides a much better integration of assessment results with critical improvement efforts in areas like instruction and curricular design.

This theme of integrating assessment and instruction has guided our efforts to construct an office where we can continue to strive toward the end goal of student success, but through an evolving focus on refined and improved support structures. These structural changes are truly at the heart of what we are doing in CATT as our new ability to more readily employ assessment results leverages previous university resources in ways that were more difficult prior to the merge.

To simply conceptualize this, our operations include an expanded team structure, whereby staff from all areas interact directly with the necessary and complementary teams to ensure that we are approaching problems and challenges holistically. For example, our UB Learns staff, assessment staff, and instructional support staff can all work in immediate proximity to each other. The simple barrier related to offices being located on very different parts of the campus was chipped away with Zoom during the pandemic. Now, we are co-located and the physical barrier that hindered direct communication between the two offices is completely gone.  

Under our expanded framework, these teams who are now in more immediate contact with each other likewise share the same goals and aspirations as part of the strategic alignments of our planning process.

For all the negative aspects of the pandemic on our university community, CATT has sought to utilize our own pandemic experiences in order to deliver to the campus an enhanced office, which has been born from many of the insights learned as we worked to address the challenges of the past year-and-a-half. Determined to emerge from this situation with positive results, it was made clear to us that these times necessitate much stronger direct lines of support for our faculty. To this end, CATT has removed some of the artificial, yet obstructive, barriers hindering such support structures. Whereas, in previous situations, faculty might have had to bounce around themselves in order to get the holistic support that they need, now the coordination of such comprehensive efforts happens behind the scenes, and is directed by experts and staff who are knowledgeable in these areas—eliminating much of this burden from the faculty.

Ultimately, in many ways, this new office also marks an important milestone for me personally as I initially entered my Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology to contribute more significantly to impacting student learning and success. My training centered on identifying and leveraging the most effective evidence-based ways to achieve such outcomes, starting from best practices and scientific data and theories and following the results through to their culmination in the student experience. As such, that is exactly what CATT is now working to achieve as our merger has enabled us to combine all of the necessary components into one efficient educational unit.