In this issue




Upcoming Events


Faculty Teaching Visit with Katherine L. Friedman, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Thursday, January 16


GradSTEP 2014
Saturday, January 25






Check out these recent posts to our blog.


The Mindful PhD: Support for Stressed Students

The Mindful PhD: 2013 Top 10

GradSTEP 2014: Students as Producers – Sneak Peek at the Plenary

New Partnership, New Opportunities for Humanities Doctoral Students

What’s In Your Syllabus?

BOLD Fellow Zane Ricks Creates Interactive Learning Module for Biostatistics Course

A (New) Plan for Lesson Planning

Shelfies: The Bibliophile’s Selfie

Flexible Classrooms: Highlights from #Spaces4Learning

The Mindful PhD: Difficult Discussions




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January 2014

Teaching Visit Opportunity in January

The Teaching Visits program The CFT’s Teaching Visit program continues in January with an opportunity for Vanderbilt faculty to sit in on the class of a colleague and participate in a small-group conversation about the choices we make as teachers. To learn more about upcoming visits and to register, visit the CFT's Teaching Visit webpage.

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
BSCI 210: Principles of Genetics

Kathy Friedman takes a highly interactive approach to teaching Genetics, and has always found review sessions to be the best learning experiences for her students. This semester, she is trying to extend the review session model by “flipping” some of her Genetics lectures. Collaborating with BOLD Fellow Tessy Sebastian, Kathy has developed videos, quizzes, and practice problems that introduce students to basic concepts before coming to class, allowing them to spend class time focused on more advanced applications of the concepts. This teaching visit will provide an opportunity to discuss how Kathy and Tessy prepared the online materials as well as the students’ and instructor’s response to the flipped class experience.

Date: Thursday, January 16th
Time: 8:10-10:30am
Location: MRB III 1220
Facilitator: Cynthia Brame
Discussion Location: MRB III 2210 (Mosig Conference Room)
Faculty of Any Rank REGISTER NOW

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GradSTEP Provides Professional Development for Graduate and Professional Students

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 2014 will focus on Students as Producers: Developing dynamic learning in a virtual and real-world setting and will be held Saturday, January 25th, in Light Hall. The event will begin with a plenary session in which a panel of faculty and students examine two examples of Vanderbilt faculty enabling students to produce works for authentic audiences, and will feature Dr. Cynthia Cyrus (Musicology) and Dr. Joe Bandy (Sociology).

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

- Using Wikis
- Service Learning
- Interactive Lecturing
- Team-based Learning
- Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
- Research and Design Projects in Classes
- Professional Development for Humanities and Social Sciences
- Professional Development for STEM
- Active Learning in Intro Classes
- Technology in the Classroom
- Managing Difficult Discussions
- Interdisciplinarity in the Classroom

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

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Faculty Discuss Newest Coursera Offerings

The Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL) and the CFT will host a MOOC faculty panel that will provide an overview of Vanderbilt's most recent Coursera offerings on Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative with instructor Jay Clayton, and Data Management for Clinical Research with instructors Stephany Duda, Paul Harris, and Firas Wehbe. 

Monday, January 13th
12:00 to 1:30
Community Room, Central Library

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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:

Writing as Discovery: Using Low-Stakes Writing to Help Students Learn

Tuesday, January 21st
Community Room, Central Library
Opening Guest Presenter:  Amanda Benson (Biological Sciences)


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

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Grad Students, Come Work at the CFT!

The Center for Teaching is now accepting applications for its 2014-15 Graduate Teaching Fellow and Teaching Affiliate positions.

  • Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs) are employed for the entire academic year, engage in a variety of CFT activities around training and supporting Teaching Assistants across the university, and are paid $20,000 August - May. NOTE: We’ll also be looking for an additional GTF specifically in the humanities to work with the CFT’s role in Vanderbilt’s new Mellon Partners for Humanities Education project.
  • Teaching Affiliates prepare and lead sessions at our annual Teaching Assistant Orientation in August, working about 70 hours total (mostly in August), and are paid $1000.

These positions are great opportunities for graduate students to refine their teaching and presentation skills, network with graduate students outside of their department or program, and develop expertise in training and supporting new TAs. Every year, our Teaching Affiliates and GTFs tell us how much they enjoyed and benefited from their experience working at the CFT.

Additional information and application instructions can be found here.
Applications are due Monday, February 17th.

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CFT to Offer Special Section of the Certificate in College Teaching

Description: CFT will offer a special section of the CFT’s Certificate in College Teaching as a Mellon Seminar, designed specifically for humanities doctoral students who are interested in faculty careers at HBCUs and liberal arts colleges. In this section, participants will learn not only fundamentals of research-based teaching practices and how college students learn; they will focus on humanities pedagogies and the specific contexts of smaller campuses, liberal arts colleges, and historically black institutions. For example, participants will delve into their discipline’s signature pedagogies, or its ways of teaching that enact in the classroom its habits of mind, the practices, and the values. (For more about signature pedagogies, read this post by Nancy Chick.) They will then explore the commonalities among these pedagogies across the humanistic disciplines. They will also learn about the traditions and cultures for teaching and learning at campuses like TSU, Tougaloo, and Berea–among many others.

This spring, Senior Graduate Teaching Fellow Jessica Riviere (German) and CFT Assistant Director, Nancy Chick, will be working closely together to develop this curriculum. The CFT will also be hiring a fifth Graduate Teaching Fellow to assist with this partnership and teach the Mellon Seminar.

The Warren Center for the Humanities and the Curb Center for Art are developing Mellon Institute for Early-Career Scholars in the Digital and Public Humanities, a week-long program devoted to the public and digital humanities. For more information about the project, read this story.

If you’re a graduate student in the humanities and interested in either teaching or taking our Mellon Seminar, stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

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From the Stacks...


Teaching for Critical Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions
by Stephen Brookfield

According to AAC & U’s 2013 employer survey, 93% of employers agree that a candidate’s “demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems” is more important than their undergraduate major. Likewise, more than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop critical thinking skills.

In Teaching for Critical Thinking, Stephen Brookfield builds on his last three decades of experience running workshops and teaching courses on critical thinking to explore how student learn to think this way, and what teachers can do to help students develop this capacity. He outlines a basic protocol of critical thinking as a learning process that focuses on uncovering and checking assumptions, exploring alternative perspectives, and taking informed actions as a result. Written to address the broad range of disciplines, this book fosters a shared understanding of critical thinking and helps to various constituencies adapt general principles to specific disciplinary contexts.

Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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