In this issue




Check out these recent posts to our blog.

Ask Professor Pedagogy: Handling Overachievers

Ask Professor Pedagogy: Grading Efficiently

Using Peer Instruction to Flip Your Classroom: Highlights from Eric Mazur’s Recent Visit

Learner-Centered Teaching at Vanderbilt

SoTL Spotlight: Public Performances of Learning






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May, 2013

CFT Hosts the Celebration of Teaching this
Friday, May 3rd

The Center for Teaching and the Graduate School will honor the achievements of the Vanderbilt teaching community at the annual Celebration of Teaching on May 3, 2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm in The Commons.  The event is open to Vanderbilt faculty, staff, and students. We hope that you will join us in celebrating the year in teaching and learning!

Even though the reservation-only lunch is full, you can still come to our concurrent sessions covering topics of interest to the Vanderbilt teaching community, as well as a poster session that will showcase projects by participants in the CFT’s Teaching Certificate Program and SoTL Scholars Program. No RSVP is required for concurrent sessions – just join us!

Concurrent sessions include:

View the complete schedule here.

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Apply to be Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow!

The Center for Teaching’s Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows Program offers its fellows many opportunities to enhance their teaching and be active members of a teaching community at Vanderbilt.

  • Fellows will be provided with a structured set of professional development activities designed to help them refine their teaching skills and learn to teach more efficiently.
  • They will benefit from engaging in these activities in a community of other teachers, including past Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows, senior faculty mentors, and CFT senior staff.
  • Each fellow will also receive $2000 in research funds each to be used to enhance their teaching.

“New faculty typically over-prepared lectures, taught defensively so as to avoid public criticism, and had few plans to improve their teaching.”
—Robert Boice, The New Faculty Member

 Applications for 2013-14 are now being accepted until May 15th.
Applicants will be selected primarily on the basis of how participation in this program will benefit their individual professional development trajectories.  The current quality of applicants’ teaching skills is less important than their interest in developing those skills through this program. Preferences will be given to those applicants who have prospects for long-term impact on Vanderbilt students and the broader Vanderbilt community.

Visit the Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows web page for program details and online application.

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Reflections from SoTL Scholar Sarah Parker Collier

“Scholarly teaching is what every one of us should be engaged in every day that we are in classroom, in our office with students, tutoring, lecturing, conducting discussions, all the roles we play pedagogically. Our work as teachers should meet the highest scholarly standards of groundedness, of openness, of clarity and complexity. But it is only when we step back and reflect systematically on the teaching we have done, in a form that can be publicly reviewed and built upon by our peers, that we have moved from scholarly teaching to the scholarship of teaching.”  -Lee Shulman, 2004

SoTL (the scholarship of teaching and learning) is an academic movement in which an instructor investigates student learning with a scholarly question in mind about “what works” or “what is/what it looks like” in the classroom. The challenge, as brilliantly posited by Shulman (above), is moving towards the scholarship of teaching (and learning), not just scholarly teaching. SoTL investigates how we foster student learning through our teaching approaches by asking good questions and gathering evidence from students about their learning, our teaching practices, and often discipline-specific challenges.  Then, we share our findings with the greater academic community.  In this way, SoTL is a collection of conversations about teaching and learning.

Sarah Parker Collier

“Asking questions about my teaching is simple: How could I present this information so students don’t fall asleep? But learning to ask a question that relates to my specific classroom context yet addresses significant obstacles in science education more broadly is a completely different animal."

As a participant in the inaugural SoTL Scholars Program, I’ve had the opportunity to have a voice in this growing SoTL conversation. Asking questions about my teaching is simple: How could I present this information so students don’t fall asleep? But learning to ask a question that relates to my specific classroom context yet addresses significant obstacles in science education more broadly is a completely different animal.  With a background in the sciences, I approached the SoTL Scholars Program with an analytical mind but grew to love the real application to student learning. Of course, with any research project there are numbers and facts, but learning is deeply personal and relational, and the core of learning is about people.

My participation in the Program has also introduced me to a fantastic cohort of colleagues across campus, colleagues who are vivacious and excited about the future of teaching and student learning.  At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 SoTL Scholars Program, I walk away with a significant toolkit to evaluate my teaching practices that will enable me to continue to contribute to the global conversation on student learning.

 The CFT invites applications for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Scholars Program for the 2013-14 academic year. Deadline for applications is September 9th. For more information and to apply, visit the SoTL Scholars Program web page.

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Announcing “Teaching & Learning Inquiry,” ISSOTL’s New Journal


by CFT Director Derek Bruff

I’m very pleased to share that news that the inaugural issue of Teaching & Learning Inquiry (TLI) is now available. This new journal “publishes insightful research, theory, commentary, and other scholarly works that document or facilitate investigations of teaching and learning in higher education.” TLI is the official journal of the International Society of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL), and is co-edited by our own Nancy Chick, CFT assistant director and affiliated faculty in English.

Nancy is the author of many scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) articles and book chapters and the co-editor of two books on signature pedagogies, experience she has leveraged in her work on TLI. Nancy’s work with the international SoTL community enhances all that she does here at the CFT, most notably the SoTL Scholars Program for graduate students she launched this past academic year.

I’m very proud to have Nancy on staff here at the CFT and to help support the scholarly efforts of an organization as well-respected as ISSOTL. Congratulations to Nancy–and to her editorial managers, Katie Headrick Taylor and Erica Hayden, also here at the CFT–on the publication of TLI‘s first issue!

See the official press release on the CFT blog. The journal is available online through Indiana University Press. Follow these links for additional information on Nancy Chick, ISSOTL, and the CFT’s SoTL Scholars program.

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Cumberland Project 2013

by Joe Bandy

On April 23rd, thirteen faculty met to participate in the third year of the Cumberland Project, a workshop supported by American Studies and the Center for Teaching that is designed to assist faculty in developing courses that address some dimension of environmental and social sustainability.

In the 2011 and 2012 workshops, participants took part in a series of experiences that involved critical dialogue about sustainability as a concept, as a set of social and environmental problems, and as a pedagogy that comes with various challenges.  In this year’s iteration, the Cumberland Project invited past participants to return for a more practical workshop focused on further improvements of their ongoing courses and teaching practices. 

Thirteen were willing to join in conversation about the two themes of problem- and project-based learning as they may be applied to their course designs.  These two pedagogies, when done well, involve high impact teaching practices with particular usefulness for students as they struggle to understand and solve the many complex, interdisciplinary problems of achieving environmental and social sustainability.

While the future of the Cumberland Project has yet to be determined, this and past years’ workshops have resulted in growing interest and expertise in teaching sustainability.  If you have an interest in following up on these or related issues regarding the pedagogies of sustainability and resilience, please contact the Center for Teaching.

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Grand Challenge: Undergraduate Teaching in Science

The April 19th issue of Science focuses on “Grand Challenges in Science Education.” In addition to describing Carl Wieman’s quest to improve undergraduate education in the STEM disciplines, it offers a series of reviews on such topics as “The Challenge of Education and Learning in the Developing World,” “Understanding Neurocognitive Developmental Disorders Can Improve Education for All,” and “Proficiency in Science: Assessment Challenges and Opportunities.”

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From the Stacks...


The Academic Job Search Handbook
by Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer Furlong

From the publisher...
For more than 15 years, The Academic Job Search Handbook has assisted job seekers in all academic disciplines in their search for faculty positions. The guide includes information on aspects of the search that are common to all levels, with invaluable tips for those seeking their first or second faculty position. This edition provides updated advice and addresses hot topics in the competitive job market of today, including the challenges faced by dual-career couples, job search issues for pregnant candidates, and advice on how to deal with gaps in a CV.

The chapter on alternatives to academic jobs has been expanded, and sample resumes from individuals seeking non-faculty positions are included.
Perhaps the most significant contribution is the inclusion of sample vitas. The Academic Job Search Handbook describes the organization and content of the vita and includes samples from a variety of fields. In addition to CVs and research statements, new in this edition are a sample interview itinerary, a teaching portfolio, and a sample offer letter.

Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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