In this issue


Check out these recent posts to our blog.

Social Pedagogies at Vanderbilt’s CSLS

Ask Professor Pedagogy: A Mountain of Grading

From a Student’s View: Group Work

Teaching with MOOCs: Four Cases

Meet the CFT’s HASTAC Scholar Zoe LeBlanc




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December, 2012

Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight:
Jason Valentine

Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Jason Valentine, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests:

My overarching goal in teaching heat transfer is for students to be able to identify the application of heat transfer in various engineering systems and quantitatively analyze and design engineering solutions. This course is quite heavy on mathematics and the biggest challenge in teaching it is making sure that the students truly grasp the physical meaning of equations. With a physical intuition, students can understand how the foundational equations / physics described in lecture can be extended to understand more complicated heat transfer scenarios. I also put a large emphasis on illustrating how heat transfer concepts can be applied to everyday situations, making sure to use examples that the students find relevant.

The culmination of the course is an open ended design problem in which I challenge the students to go above and beyond current technology in solving engineering problems, such as scavenging waste energy from an engine. This gives students an opportunity to think creatively while also teaching them how to integrate all of the concepts learned in the course. This year at CFT, I hope to learn how to better engage students in lecture by integrating hands-on demonstrations and cooperative learning activities.

" I challenge the students to go above and beyond current technology in solving engineering problems, such as scavenging waste energy from an engine. This gives students an opportunity to think creatively while also teaching them how to integrate all of the concepts learned in the course."

In my laboratory, we investigate the optical properties of nanostructured materials with the goal of realizing novel optical phenomena and devices. The use of nanostructuring affords us the ability to engineer the optical properties of materials such as the index of refraction and absorption coefficient, realizing optical properties which are absent in naturally occurring materials. In my heat transfer course, I outline these concepts in terms of radiative heat transfer, giving the students a glimpse into the nanoscale world and active research areas. These concepts also form the basis for a graduate course that I teach on micro and nanoscale photonics wherein I show how fundamental material and optics concepts are being utilized in active research areas to realize new types of optical materials.

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Save the Date: GradSTEP January 26, 2013

Held in January each year, GradSTEP provides several workshops and discussions on teaching, learning, and professional development issues across the disciplines. All Vanderbilt graduate and professional students, as well as post-doctoral fellows, are invited to attend.

GradSTEP 2013 will focus on the theme Beyond Four Walls: Transcending the Classroom and will be held Saturday, January 26, in Buttrick Hall. The event will begin with a plenary session in which a panel of faculty members discuss how they transcend the four walls of the classroom in their teaching practices, and will feature Nancy Chick (English), Susan Shields (Human & Organizational Development), and Barb Stengel (Teaching & Learning).

Participants then select workshops in three sequential sessions. Workshops include:

    • Grading Efficiently: Finding the Time to Grade Fairly
    • Flipping the Classroom
    • Teaching with Case Studies
    • Making Discussions Safe
    • Writing in the STEM Classroom
    • Beyond Templates: Effective Powerpoint Design
    • Transitioning to Professorship: Teaching Statements and Portfolios
    • Beyond the Ivory Tower: Alternative and Non-Academic Career Choices
    • Finding Teaching Moments in the Field: Learner-centered Field Research Programs
    • Adding Spatial Dimensions to Teaching

Lunch is provided for registered participants!  Registration for GradSTEP is available now.

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Hitting the Road: Conference Season for the CFT

This fall, three members of the CFT staff have been traveling, both nationally and internationally, to present at conferences. The wide range of presentation topics included service learning, social media, junior faculty initiatives, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Click on each presentation title to see abstracts and resources from these presentations.


Joe Bandy

Targeting Junior Faculty: Responsive and Effective Strategies for Teaching Centers.” Professional and Organizational Development Network Conference. Seattle. October 27th. with Kathy Takayama (Brown U.) and Cheelan Bo-Linn (U. of Illinois)

Empowering Community by Assessing and Developing Service Learning Partnerships.”  Professional and Organizational Development Network Conference. Seattle. October 27th.


Derek Bruff 

"From the conference to the campus: Educational development through the lens of crowdsourcing." Professional & Organizational Development Network conference, Seattle. October 27. with Brophy, J., Collier, A., Connelly, M., Julius, J., Niemer, R., Russell, J.

"Social pedagogies: Motivating students through social media and authentic audiences." Professional & Organizational Development Network conference, Seattle. October 27.

"CIRTL: A multi-institutional network’s approach to preparing future scholars." Professional & Organizational Development Network conference, Seattle. October 25. with Austin, A., Border, L., Connolly, M., Gillian-Daniels, D., Greenler, R., Ouellett, M., & Sorcenelli, M.

"Teaching with visual engagement techniques." Visual Learning Conference, Northfield, MN. September 29th.


Nancy Chick

"Editors on Humanist SoTL: An ISSOTL Humanities Interest Group Panel." ISSOTL Conference, Hamilton, Canada. October 26th. with Mary Huber (Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), Patricia Killen (Gonzaga University), Eugene Gallagher (Connecticut College)

"The ISSOTL Humanities Interest Group Project: Illustrating Humanist SoTL" ISSOTL Conference, Hamilton, Canada. October 26th. with Pat Michaelson (University of Texas at Dallas), Sherry Linkon (Youngstown State University), David Pace (Indiana University)

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Interpreting and Making Sense of Course Evaluations

As the semester draws to a close, our students are given the opportunity to provide us with a potentially valuable source of feedback on our teaching and its effects on their learning.  You may find it challenging, however, to interpret what your end-of-semester course evaluations mean and decide how to act on them. 

The CFT can help.  A CFT consultant will be glad to meet with you in a one-on-one, confidential consultation to assist you with interpretation and response.  Questions considered include:

  • How do the evaluations indicate what we did well, and what we can change to improve student learning? 
  • What best practices may help us revise and refine our courses? 
  • What is the best way to reflect on our evaluations as we ready ourselves for professional review? 

To make an appointment, use our contact form or call (615) 322-7290.  And for more information see our online Teaching Guide on Student Evaluations.

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From the Stacks...


Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices

by Tanya Joosten

Faculty will learn to choose the appropriate social media tool for the intended learning outcome, design engaging and innovative activities, and better meet pedagogical needs. In addition, the author offers strategies for assessing and documenting the effectiveness of using these tools in your course. Administrators and student affairs professionals will also find a wealth of information useful for planning faculty development programs and communicating with students.

Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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