In this issue










Check out these recent posts to our blog.

Trickle Up

First Person Singular

Reflections from SoTL Scholar Abbey Mann

The Mindful PhD: Sitting Down & Staying Still









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November 2014

Welcome to New CFT Administrative Assistant, Juliet Traub

Description:’re very happy to welcome to the Center for Teaching our new administrative assistant, Juliet Traub.  Juliet comes to us from World View, a program at the University of North Carolina that equips teachers to integrate global education in K12 curricula, where she was the program manager.  Prior to that, Juliet served as an administrative assistant in Vanderbilt’s Cancer Biology department for several years.  At the CFT, Juliet will handle scheduling for teaching consultations and meetings, oversee our reception area and library, coordinate office logistics, and assist with the planning and implementation of CFT events and programs.

We’re excited to have Juliet on the team. Please give her a warm welcome the next time you stop by the CFT!

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Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Dan Morgan

Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Dan Morgan, Senior Lecturer in the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests:

"I enjoy teaching both scientists and nonscientists, and one of my teaching goals is to provide students with skills that they can apply to any project, regardless of the field they end up in."

Many geoscientists consider themselves story tellers because we develop ways to tell the history of the earth. My goal as a teacher is not simply for students to be able to recite the facts of the story of the planet, but also to understand the logic, importance, and applications of the narrative so that ultimately the students can tell their own geologic stories. To achieve this goal of getting students to become authors of their own scientific stories, I strive to: 1) create a learning atmosphere that promotes critical and creative thinking, 2) break down seemingly random events into measurable parts and processes, 3) incorporate field and lab based material into my courses, and 4) make students aware of the learning objectives that I have set. I enjoy teaching both scientists and nonscientists, and one of my teaching goals is to provide students with skills that they can apply to any project, regardless of the field they end up in.

In the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences I teach a wide range of classes: from our introductory course (EES 101: Dynamic Earth) to the capstone senior seminar (EES 299), from a required course for our majors (EES 240: Structural Geology) to a Maymester course in New Zealand (EES 210: Field Investigations), and from special topics seminars for first-year students to senior honors projects. I enjoy the variety of these teaching interactions because they bring me into contact with the entire range of Vanderbilt students, and with EES majors throughout their academic career. Then I get to work with these students in a variety of environments – the classroom, the field, the laboratory, and the computer lab – and this diversity of teaching settings energizes and challenges me to develop engaging courses.

At Vanderbilt, I am also involved in various student life activities because I believe fostering a living-learning community supports the broader liberal arts goal of teaching students how to be lifelong learners. I serve as a mentor to first-year students through the VUcept program, am the faculty advisor for the undergraduate Geology Club, and advise a Mayfield living-learning community. As the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the EES department, I advise all our majors and minors, and I am honored to be a part of these students’ journeys through Vanderbilt.

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SoTL Scholars Program is Accepting Applications

Description: SoTL Scholars Program introduces participants to the principles and practices of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, an international, multidisciplinary field of disciplinary specialists studying student learning. SoTL is a synthesis of teaching, learning, and research in higher education that aims to bring a scholarly lens—the curiosity, the inquiry, the rigor, the disciplinary variety—to what happens in the classroom. SoTL asks expert disciplinary researchers to apply and extend those skills into the classroom. For more explanation of SoTL, see the CFT’s SoTL Guide, which serves as the e-textbook for the Program. The program has two sequential parts, each of which is highly collaborative:

  • a one-semester SoTL Seminar to explore the fundamentals of the scholarship of teaching and learning, including its major thinkers and texts, its key concepts and language, and its relationship to older forms of classroom research, and to ask meaningful questions about student learning and its relationship to teaching. (Spring semester: 8 sessions, 75 minutes each)
  • a one-semester SoTL Practicum to develop and carry out a SoTL project (documented in either the first eight pages of a publishable SoTL paper or a 20-minute presentation of the project, ready for submission to a SoTL conference) and gain the skills for presenting the project in scholarly public forums, including relevant conference presentations and publications. (Fall semester)

Participants may sign up for the Seminar only, but only those who compete the Seminar and Practicum will receive a Certificate in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Participants who complete the certificate will have the first eight-pages of a publishable SoTL article, a twenty-minute SoTL conference presentation, or a SoTL conference poster.

The SoTL Scholars Program is co-directed by Nancy Chick (CFT Assistant Director, who brings years of SoTL experience and expertise, including founding and editing a major SoTL journal) and Vivian Finch, CFT Graduate Teaching Fellow who has completed the Program.

Application Deadline: December 22

For more details on the program or to apply, visit the SoTL Scholars webpage


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BOLD Fellows Program is Accepting Applications

We are recruiting graduate students to participate in the BOLD Fellows program beginning in January 2015.

The BOLD Fellows program is designed to help graduate student/faculty teams build expertise in developing online instructional modules grounded in good course design principles and our understanding of how people learnSTEM faculty members partner with graduate students or postdocs to design and develop online modules for integration into a course, either as a tool to promote flipping the classroom, a module for a blended course, or a unit within a MOOC. The teams implement these modules in an existing class and investigate their impact on student learning. The program is a collaboration between Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching, the CIRTL Network (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning), and Vanderbilt’s Institute for Digital Learning.

Description: two-semester program is divided into a “design and development” semester, in which Fellows receive intensive training and support as they develop their module, and an “implementation and assessment” semester. We are currently recruiting Fellows to begin the program in January for implementation and assessment in the following Fall semester.  The Fellowship carries a modest stipend as well as funds for presenting the results of the work at a conference. For more information about the program, including a video from the inaugural group of BOLD Fellows and application information, see the CFT’s BOLD program page.

Applications are due November 14; decisions will be made by December 5.

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A New Guide on Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom

imageAmong the greatest challenges facing higher education in the US rests in its difficulties confronting, rather than replicating, an array of social inequalities, and in related efforts to create diverse and democratic campus cultures.

These challenges touch every area of campus life, but no domain is as central to this work as the classroom. The Center for Teaching has embarked upon a theme year on Teaching, Difference, and Power as a way to explore many of the challenges educators face as they negotiate difference and inequality in their classrooms.

Throughout this academic year, the CFT will be producing various online resources as a part of this endeavor. The first is this Guide on Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom written by former Graduate Teaching Fellow, Andrew Greer, from Human and Organizational Development. It is the first of several guides that will address different aspects of this year's theme.

CFT Blog Posts on the Topic of Teaching, Difference, and Power

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From the Stacks...


Engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
by Cathy Bishop-Clark and Beth Dietz-Uhler

This is a book for anyone who has ever considered engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and needs a better understanding of what it is, and how to engage in it.

The authors describe how to create a SoTL project, its implications for promotion and tenure, and how it fosters increased satisfaction and fulfillment in teaching, improved student learning, collaboration with colleagues across disciplines, and contributing to a growing and important body of literature. This guide provides prospective SoTL scholars with the necessary background information, foundational theory, tools, resources, and methodology to develop their own SoTL projects, taking the reader through the stages of the process. Each stage is illustrated by examples of actual SoTL studies, and is accompanied by worksheets to help the reader refine ideas and map out his or her next steps.

Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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