In this issue






Check out these recent posts to our blog.


reflectNew Teaching Guide for Statistics Instructors


reflectNew Teaching Guide: Team-Based Learning


reflectTeaching with Technology: Profile of Eric Mentges


reflectTeaching with Technology: Profile of Paul Morrow


reflectEncouraging Participation From All







Follow Us!

facebook logotwitter logo
Follow the CFT on Facebook
and Twitter!

Get the latest information about events, resources, and news from the CFT on Facebook and Twitter. You can “like" our Facebook page, which means that the latest CFT news will appear in your Facebook news feed. You can also “follow” the CFT on Twitter to read the latest news. (If you’re not using Twitter, here’s a three-minute video that explains why you might want to.)




Not a member of the CFT News and Events LISTSERV? Subscribe now to receive future newsletters.






July, 2013

Mark your calendar & spread the word about upcoming August orientations

curbTeaching at Vanderbilt (TaV) , an orientation for junior and senior faculty new to Vanderbilt, will be held from 2 to 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, August 15th, 2013, in Buttrick 102. Those interested in attending should RSVP by August 8th by Registering Online or by calling the Center for Teaching at (615) 322-7290.  CFT staff will be available for teaching consultations throughout the following week, and a series of hands-on workshops addressing a variety of teaching topics will be offered during the week, as well.

Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO) will be held on Wednesday, August 14, in Buttrick Hall. TAO is intended for all graduate students who will begin teaching assistant (TA) duties during the 2013-14 school year. New teaching assistants should register for the event by August 12th. Information about this event is also available on the CFT website.

Please spread the details about these two events to new faculty and new graduate students in your department.

Back to top

Teaching Workshops to Help You Prepare for Fall Courses

During the week before classes begin, the CFT will be offering the following workshops for new and returning faculty:

Flipping the Classroom
Monday, August 19th 11:30-1:00 (lunch provided)
Location: CFT Workshop Space
Facilitator: Cynthia Brame, CFT Assistant Director

With a new semester starting, it’s a good time to think about ways to ensure that your students are engaged and learning the things you want them to learn. A great way to do this is by “flipping the classroom,” an approach that has been popularized by high profile publications in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Science. In essence, “flipping the classroom” means that students gain first exposure to new material outside of class and then use class time to do the harder work of applying that knowledge to problems, debates, or case studies. This workshop will highlight key elements of the flipped classroom, introduce different methods for establishing those elements, and provide opportunity for teachers to discuss their ideas for or experience with flipping the classroom.

Creating Engaging Discussions
Monday, August 19th 11:30-1:00 (lunch provided)
Location: CFT Conference Room
Facilitator: Joe Bandy, CFT Assistant Director

One of the defining yet most elusive goals of good teaching is to engage students in productive and engaging discussions. To lead discussions effectively requires more than just knowledge of course content, but a wide array of abilities that include planning, emotional sensitivity, rapport-building, thoughtful questioning, dialogue management, appropriate interventions, thoughtful questioning, and many others. Developing these abilities and balancing them creatively in the classroom makes discussion leading a complex and challenging task. This interactive workshop will engage participants in dialogue about effective discussion-leading strategies with guidance from the literature on teaching and learning in higher education.

Teaching With Blogs
Tuesday, August 20th 11:30-1:00 (lunch provided)
Location: Stevenson Center Computer Lab 2200
Facilitator: Rhett McDaniel, CFT Educational Technologist

As digital writing becomes more commonplace in Vanderbilt courses, you may want to think about adding a blog to your course activities. If you have been considering blogging in your course but are not sure how to get started with it, this session will help you consider what skills you may need to learn and how to set up your Wordpress blog account. You will also discover some ideas and tips on making your blogging experience a success for you and your students.

If you'd like to explore blogging before the session, watch this three-minute video, “Blogs in Plain English” or visit Course Blogs at Vanderbilt, a mash-up of live feeds representing a wide variety of Vanderbilt courses that use blogging to help students reflect on, comment about, and introduce new ideas to course material. REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT


Back to top

Apply to be part of the Certificate in College Teaching

curbThe Center for Teaching is excited to offer, once again, opportunities for interested graduate students and postdocs to receive our Certificate in College Teaching.  The purpose is to gain a clearer, deeper, more active approach to teaching and learning in higher education. The certificate focuses on the research on how people learn and best teaching practices, and supports the university’s pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. The certificate is ideal for graduate students whose goals are to become more effective educators and who want to prepare for future careers in higher education teaching.

To receive a Certificate, participants complete the following:

  • Seminar in College Teaching. A one-semester seminar which explores and develops teaching skills. Participants attend 8 group sessions and complete a microteaching experience. Additionally, participants attend a teaching visit and develop a philosophy of teaching.
  • College Teaching Practicum. A one-semester practicum in which participants enhance the effectiveness of their current teaching and assessment practices. Participants complete an observation of their classroom teaching. Additionally, participants will refine their philosophy of teaching.

For more on the Certificate in College Teaching, please visit the program's CFT webpage.

This Fall there will be two sections of the Seminar in College Teaching if you are interested in taking part.  However, please note that because of great interest in the Certificate and a wait list from previous semesters, there are a limited number of seats available in the Seminar.  Registration will open on July 15th so please go to the Certificate webpage and follow the registration link then.

Back to top

Thinking About Thinking: What is Metacognition?

by CFT Assistant Director Nancy Chick


Metacognition refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner. Metacognitive practices help students become aware of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, writers, readers, test-takers, group members, etc.  A key element is recognizing the limit of one’s knowledge or ability and then figuring out how to expand that knowledge or extend the ability. Those who know their strengths and weaknesses in these areas will be more likely to “actively monitor their learning strategies and resources and assess their readiness for particular tasks and performances” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, p. 67).

There are a variety of research-based ways of putting metacognition into practice.  For instance, Tanner (2012) shares some assignments for explicit instruction and recommendations for developing a “classroom culture grounded in metacognition." Weimer (2012) encourages us to "confront [students] with the effectiveness (more often ineffectiveness) of their approaches [to learning]" and points to a table of "cognitively passive" and "cognitive active behaviors" (Stanger-Hall, 2012) as a model for an assignment in which students evaluate their own study practices. Similarly, a common assignment in English composition courses is the self-assessment essay in which students apply course criteria to articulate their strengths and weaknesses within single papers or over the course of the semester. These activities can be adapted to assignments other than exams or essays, such as projects, speeches, discussions, and the like.

Metacognition instruction should also be embedded with the content and activities about which students are thinking.  Why?  Metacognition is “not generic” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, p. 19) but instead is most effective when it is adapted to reflect the specific learning contexts of a specific topic, course, or discipline (Zohar & David, 2009).  Concepción illustrates this attention to context in “Reading Philosophy with Background Knowledge and Metacognition” (2004) with a detailed “How to Read Philosophy” handout (pp. 358-367), which can be adapted across disciplines.

The CFT has developed an online resource with more research-based methods of putting metacognition into practice. Visit the Metacognition teaching guide to learn more.

Back to top


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.

Back to top

Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching
1114 19th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37212 | 615-322-7290

Click here to unsubscribe from the CFT News and Events LISTSERV
Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.