In this issue




Upcoming Events



Engaging Students as Learners and as Participants in Community Building: The Synergies of Service Learning
Thursday, November 14
4:10PM - 5:30PM




Check out these recent posts to our blog.


Class Time Reconsidered: Making the Most of 150 Minutes a Week

Beyond the Five-Page Paper: Representing Student Learning Visually

The Mindful PhD:
How It Works, I

The Mindful PhD:
How It Works, II

The Mindful PhD:
Stories of the Slow Professor

The Mindful PhD:
This Embodied PhD

From a Student’s View: Solving a Campus Navigation Challenge

CFT Offers New Guide: “Beyond the Essay: Making Student Thinking Visible in the Humanities”

CFT Offers New Guide: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)








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.











November 2013

From the Director

It’s been a busy fall semester here at the Center for Teaching. I thought I might share a few highlights:

  • Our “Students as Producers” theme year is off to a strong start, with faculty panels from the sciences and engineering and the humanities exploring some of theways that students can be not only “consumers” of knowledge, but producers as well.  On the CFT website, you’ll find an interview with undergraduate and “producer” Allanah Jackson, a new teaching guide on making student learning visible in the humanities, and more. We have one more event on this theme this fall, a workshop on service learning on November 14th.
  • I am particularly excited about the final event in our “Students as Producers” theme year: a Celebration of Learning on April 21, 2014. The event will feature an exhibition of the products of student learning experiences at Vanderbilt this year, a keynote presentation by Georgetown University’s Randall Bass, and a reception honoring students and faculty. More information can be found later in the newsletter and on our blog. Please save the date!
  • Many great things are happening in our faculty and graduate student programs this fall.  We launched our new Blended & Online Learning Design (BOLD) Fellows program in September with four faculty-graduate student teams developing online learning modules.  Our Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) Scholars program is having a banner second year, with sixteen graduate student participants, supported by a fantastic new guide to SoTL authored by the CFT’s Nancy Chick. We welcome a new cohort of eight Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows, a program now open to both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. And our Certificate in College Teaching continues to attract interest around campus, with 63 graduate students and post-docs moving through the program this fall and another 48 on the waiting list!
  • My staff and I are going on the road this fall, participating in a number of conferences.  Assistant director Joe Bandy presented at the American Sociological Association (ASA) conference back in August, and assistant directors Nancy Chick and Cynthia Brame presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) conference last month.  This week, educational technologist Rhett McDaniel and I are heading to the Professional & Organizational Development (POD) Network conference in Pittsburgh to present on a couple of studies in progress.
  • I continue to serve on the Provost’s Committee on the Evaluation of Teaching and Learning, co-chaired by Mark Schoenfield (English) and Leona Schauble (Teaching & Learning).  We’re taking a close look at how teaching is assessed and evaluated at the four undergraduate colleges, and we’re planning to make a set of recommendations for enhancing the evaluation process later this fall.
  • Finally, I’m very pleased to announce that the CFT will be part of a $750,000, three-year, multi-institution National Science Foundation WIDER grant supporting the creation of two MOOCs (massive open online courses) on evidence-based teaching practices for future STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) faculty.  I’m one of the co-PIs on the project, and I’m excited about the initiative, in part because of the design challenge we’ve set for ourselves—using the global learning community of a MOOC to connect and enhance local learning communities around the world—and in part because of the positive impact on undergraduate STEM education these MOOCs will have now and down the road. See my recent blog post for more information.

As I said, it’s been a busy semester!   I hope your semester is going well.  If you have any questions about these initiatives or other ways the CFT is supporting the teaching mission of the university, don’t hesitate to ask.

Back to top

Upcoming Teaching Visit for CiCT Program Participants

The CFT thanks Emily Nacol, Associate Professor of Political Science, for volunteering her time and opening her classrooms to the graduate student and post-doc participants in the CFT’s Certificate in College Teaching program.

HONS 183: Risky Ventures: Political Economy
(College Honors Seminar in Behavioral and Social Sciences)

Emily uses a variety of learner-centered strategies in her teaching.  In this course, she will be using a mixture of student presentations, general discussion, concept mapping, and a variety of writing assignments to prompt informed discussion of complex political theory.

Back to top

Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Will Grissom

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

My group is currently focused on technical developments for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-guided focused ultrasound and ultra-high field MRI. Ultra-high field strength MRI scanners, such as the 7 Tesla scanner at the Vanderbilt Institute of Imaging Science, promise substantially higher signal-to-noise, spatial and spectral resolution, and new and stronger contrast mechanisms than current clinical MRIs, which have field strengths of 3 Tesla or lower.

"I would most like to develop strategies to increase student engagement in my lectures, in particular ways to flip the classroom. I expect that this would allow me to increase the rigor of my courses while improving student comprehension and retention of the material."

During my year in the CFT Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows Program, I want to design a course called Magnetic Resonance Imaging Instrumentation. In it, students will build a tabletop MRI scanner from the ground up. It will be an elective aimed at senior Biomedical Engineering students; as such, the lecture portion will start from the basics of MR imaging, and then cover each component of the scanner in some detail, while the students build that component in the lab. Since most students will have had only a very basic introduction to electric circuits and no radiofrequency (RF) engineering instruction, the lectures will also teach these concepts as they relate to MRI signal generation and detection. I want students to come away from the course with an intuitive understanding of MRI, with an appreciation for how to go from the governing equations and physics of the systems to the actual instruments, and with practical electrical and RF engineering skills that they could apply to a wide variety of problems. I intend to offer this course during the Spring 2014 semester, which will enable me to leverage the Program both in early design of the course, and in real time as I teach it.

I would most like to develop strategies to increase student engagement in my lectures, in particular ways to flip the classroom. I expect that this would allow me to increase the rigor of my courses while improving student comprehension and retention of the material. I would also like to improve my skills in developing homework and laboratory assignments in order to both simplify them so that students can identify ever-clearer connections to classroom material, and to increase their rigor, so as to achieve a higher level of intellectual engagement. I am also eager to learn strategies for high-level course planning, and more effective and efficient lecture preparation.

Back to top

Monthly Lunchtime Conversations about Teaching Writing

“Teaching. Writing. Learning.” is a series of monthly lunchtime conversations for anyone who teaches writing at Vanderbilt to gather and discuss specific issues, hear an invited colleague briefly introduce a relevant best practice, hear a bit about other research-based practices, share one’s own best strategies, and ask questions of all present. Sponsored by the Center for Teaching, the Writing Studio, Heard Library, and the English Language Center.

Participating in the “Teaching. Writing. Learning.” series is easy!
Follow these three simple steps:

1. Bring your lunch, or buy it at Food for Thought across the hall from the Community Room.
2. Bring your relevant good practices to share.
3. Bring your questions and challenges.

This month’s conversation:

Fear, Tired, Dread, Excited:  Student Feelings and the Research Assignment
Wednesday, November 20, 12:10-1:00
Community Room, Central Library
Invited Guest Speaker:
Melinda Brown (Heard Library)

To learn more about the series or to see future topics, visit the TWL web page.

Back to top

Upcoming CFT Workshop

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 year, as part of our “Students as Producers” theme, many of the CFT’s events and workshops will explore “production” activities that can be embedded in a variety of courses. Learn more by reading Derek Bruff's blog entry about what makes a course a "Student as Producer" course.

Engaging Students as Learners and as Participants in Community Building: The Synergies of Service Learning

Thursday, November 14th
4:10 - 5:30
Facilitators: Joe Bandy
Audience: Faculty, Students (Undergraduate and Graduate), and Staff

Service learning is a pedagogy that combines the learning goals of your courses and the ideals of community service in class projects that can enhance both student development and the common good.  For students, service learning can develop their critical thinking and problem solving, skills of public leadership, a sense of personal efficacy, and even satisfaction with their college or university.  Faculty can find greater satisfaction with teaching, new avenues for research, and better relationships with their communities.  Likewise, communities can receive much needed assistance in a wide array of areas and better relationships with institutions of higher education.  However, service learning does pose significant challenges and there are forms that are likely to be more successful for all involved.

This workshop will provide opportunities for participants to explore service learning in their own teaching by reviewing the research on the promise and problems of service learning, and by discussing best practices that make service learning more efficient and effective.



Back to top

Save the Date: A Celebration of Learning on April 21, 2014

The final event in the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching’s “Students as Producers” theme year will be a Celebration of Learning on April 21, 2014, in Alumni Hall.  The event, held from 3 to 6 p.m. on the last day of spring classes, will feature students and the products of their learning experiences in courses at Vanderbilt this year.  Imagine an exhibit of posters, presentations, and performances students from all over campus, sharing what they have discovered, created, designed, authored, and solved.  The event will provide the Vanderbilt community with a picture of deep, engaged student learning across the colleges and schools.

Description: event will also feature a keynote presentation on the theme of “Students as Producers” by Randall Bass, Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English at Georgetown University.  Bass is known for his efforts in his own classes and with other faculty to make student learning visible, working at the intersections of new media technologies and the scholarship of teaching and learning for twenty years.  He served as director and principal investigator of the Visible Knowledge Project, a five-year scholarship of teaching and learning project involving 70 faculty on 21 university and college campuses, including Vanderbilt.  He also led “Designing for Difficulty: Social Pedagogies as a Framework for Course Design,” a two-year project featuring 16 faculty from 10 institutions funded by the Teagle Foundation.

A reception will follow Dr. Bass’ talk, during which we will honor not only the students participating in the event and their instructors, but also all students and faculty who have completed the various Center for Teaching programs this year.  We hope you will be able to join us for this exciting conclusion to the academic year.

Faculty, if you would like to nominate one or more of your students to share their work at the Celebration of Learning, please contact Center for Teaching director Derek Bruff.

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.