In this issue


Upcoming Events

Fall 2013 Teaching Assistant Orientation
Wednesday, August 14
9:00AM - 4:00PM

Teaching at Vanderbilt: An Orientation for New Faculty
Thursday, August 15
2:00PM - 4:45PM

Creating Engaging Discussions
Monday, August 19
11:30AM - 1:00PM

Flipping the Classroom
Monday, August 19
11:30AM - 1:00PM

Teaching with Blogs
Tuesday, August 20
11:30AM - 1:00PM



Check out these recent posts to our blog.


reflectThree Tips for the First Day of Class

reflectUpcoming August orientations


reflectTwitter as a Learning Network


reflectTeaching with Technology: Profile of Eric Mentges

reflectEncouraging Participation From All







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August 2013

From the Director

This summer I’ve been reading College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Columbia University humanities professor Andrew Delbanco.  The book is this year’s Commons Reading, and I hope it generates thoughtful conversations among the Class of 2017 about the college experience they begin this fall.  Between Delbanco’s book and our Chancellor’s recent challenge to consider the possibilities of residential education at a research university, I’ve been thinking about the purpose of an education at a place like Vanderbilt.  Our world faces significant challenges—global warming, waning resources, public health concerns—and we need bright, informed people equipped to help us address those challenges.  A university is a place where this equipping can take place, where students are prepared to solve tough problems, create new knowledge, and build technologies and organizations that make a difference.

In the coming year, the Center for Teaching will share and explore ways that instructors can teach for this kind of learning as part of our “Students as Producers” theme year.  Students, particularly undergraduates, are often seen as “consumers” of knowledge, memorizing information delivered to them by professors during class and then simply repeating it back on exams and essays.  But we know that they can be “producers” of knowledge, as well, capable of generating meaningful, creative work, even within the confines of a semester-long course.  This theme points to ways students can become more active participants in their own learning and construct their own meaning and understanding within and across disciplines.  Look for a number of events and resources from the CFT this year exploring “production” activities that can be embedded in a variety of courses, such as writing projects, digital stories, design projects, service learning, and research endeavors.

More immediately, we’ll be welcoming to campus new faculty and teaching assistants and helping them think about ways to foster student learning in their classrooms.  Teaching Assistant Orientation will be held on Wednesday, August 14th, with Teaching at Vanderbilt, our new faculty orientation, held the next day, August 15th.  Also, our online guide, Getting Started Teaching at Vanderbilt, is packed with practical information and is available to instructors to both new and returning. We’re also hosting three workshops for new and returning faculty early next week on leading discussions, “flipping” the classroom, and teaching with blogs.

Speaking of welcoming, I’m happy to welcome to the Center for Teaching our new program coordinator, Tracy Tveit.  Tracy comes to us from Vanderbilt’s Department of Cancer Biology, where she was the graduate program education coordinator.  At the CFT, Tracy will work with our senior staff to coordinate events and programs for graduate students and faculty, including orientations, workshops, and ongoing programs like our Certificate in College Teaching.  We’re very excited to have Tracy on the team.

Here’s to an exciting fall semester!

Derek Bruff
Director, Center for Teaching

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CFT Proudly Welcomes the 2013 Cohort of Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows!

This year's Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows are, left to right,
Markus Eberl (Anthropology), Max Goldman (Classics), Will Grissom (Biomedical Engineering),
Chase Lesane-Brown (Psychology and Human Development), Bryan Lowe (Religious Studies),
Gavin Price (Psychology and Human Development), Brian Widmar (Nursing), and
Courtney Young

Research by Robert Boice (Advice for New Faculty, 2000) and others indicates that junior faculty often find teaching the most challenging and time-consuming part of their jobs. This is why the CFT is dedicated to helping all junior faculty become quick starters by offering an array of workshops, working groups, and consultation opportunities, programs that can result in more successful and enjoyable teaching experiences.

Primary among the CFT's junior faculty programs is the Junior Faculty Teaching Fellowship, which provides its recipients with a more structured faculty development experience complete with consultations, course design seminar, peer education, and senior faculty mentorship. This program not only helps its fellows develop an understanding of best teaching practices across the disciplines, but also assists them in their professional growth by helping them hone their abilities to balance teaching and research, improve their materials for review, and build a collaborative culture of teaching at Vanderbilt.

Over the coming months, the CFT newsletter will highlight the work of this year's Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. Each month a fellow will be featured discussing his or her teaching philosophy and interests.

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Announcing the New Teaching Affiliates for 2013

This year's graduate student Teaching Affliliates are, left to right,
Oscar Ayala (Biomedical Engineering), Karen Childress (Economics),Vivian Finch (German),
Jane Hirtle (Psychology and Human Development), Mary Keithly (Chemistry), Matt Owen (History),
Ryan Ortega (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Danielle Picard (History),
Tessy Sebastian (Biological Sciences), and Ansley Quiros (History).

The Center for Teaching is excited to announce the Teaching Affiliates for 2013.
Teaching Affiliates create and facilitate sessions for TA Orientation, an event that helps prepare new TAs to launch their careers as junior teachers at Vanderbilt. At TA Orientation, Teaching Affiliates work with groups of new TAs in their own or related disciplines to help prepare the TAs for common challenges related to grading, office hours, or discipline-specific pedagogies. Their thoughtful work helps make the CFT’s biggest annual event a success.

Register here for TA Orientation.

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CFT Staff Can Help You Prepare for Fall Teaching

Faculty and graduate student instructors preparing for fall courses are encouraged to take advantage of the CFT’s consultation services.  Consultants are available to help you clarify the goals you have for your students' learning and find ways to align your syllabus, assignments, and lesson plans with those goals.  We’re also glad to help you reflect on prior teaching experiences or student evaluations as you make plans for the fall. 

CFT consultations are confidential, offering instructors opportunities to reflect on and plan their teaching.  Faculty members consult with members of the CFT’s senior staff, all of whom are experienced teaching consultants and regularly teach courses at Vanderbilt.  Graduate student instructors and TAs consult with the CFT’s Graduate Teaching Fellows, who are trained consultants and experienced Vanderbilt TAs.

See our website for more information on our consultation services.  To schedule a consultation, simply call the CFT at 615-322-7290.

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From the Stacks...


Teaching at its Best

by Linda Nilson, former director of the Center for Teaching

This expanded and updated edition of the best-selling handbook is an essential toolbox, full of hundreds of practical teaching techniques, classroom activities and exercises, for the new or experienced college instructor. This new edition includes updated information on the Millennial student, more research from cognitive psychology, a focus on outcomes maps, the latest legal options on copyright issues, and more. It also includes entirely new chapters on matching teaching methods with learning outcomes, inquiry-guide learning, and using visuals to teach, as well as section on the Socratic method, SCALE-UP classrooms, and more.

Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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