In this issue





Faculty Teaching Visit with Paul Kramer, Associate Professor of History
Thursday, February 12

Faculty Teaching Visit with Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Orrin H. Ingram Chair in Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Wednesday, February 18

Faculty Teaching Visit with Lorraine Lopez, Associate Professor of English
Tuesday, February 24







Check out these recent posts to our blog.

Thinking STEM, Teaching STEM: A Blog Series principles of student learning

Thinking STEM, Teaching STEM: What Do Students Bring to the STEM Classroom?

A New Guide on Teaching Students with Disabilities

Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: John Bradley







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February 2015

Teaching Visit Opportunities in February

The CFT’s Teaching Visit program continues in February 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 Visits webpage.

Associate Professor of History
HIST 272: Debating America in the World

Paul Kramer is an associate professor of history and author of The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines. In HIST 272, he guides upper level undergraduates as they consider the role of the United States in the world, considering issues of world leadership, power politics, and immigration control. The course is driven by primary documents, and seeks to help students develop an understanding of the U.S.’s evolving role within the world through carefully reconstructing arguments from period voices. Paul uses discussion, small group work, and role-playing to help students engage with the debates that have surrounded the U.S.’s shifting roles. In the post-visit discussion, we will discuss the pedagogical choices Paul makes, including how he helps students grapple with the influence of race and power on the U.S.’s global presence.

Date: Thursday, February 12th
Time: Class: 9:35-11:50 (class, 9:35-10:50; discussion, 10:50-11:50)
Class location: Calhoun 337
Discussion location: Calhoun 413B
Facilitator: Nancy Chick

Faculty of Any Rank REGISTER NOW

Orrin H. Ingram Professor of Biomedical Engineering
BME 260: Analysis of Biomedical Data

Anita Mahadevan-Jansen is a professor of Biomedical Engineering and director of CIRTL-at-Vanderbilt, an initiative focused on professional development of STEM graduate students and post-docs around teaching. In BME 260, Anita focuses on helping students develop transferable skills in statistics that they can use to answer a variety of questions in the biomedical arena. Explicitly rejecting a “plug-and-chug” approach, Anita strives to guide students to an understanding of how to choose a statistical approach and understand the math that underlies it. During the teaching visit, students will be completing interactive exercises using laptops to extend their understanding of the mathematical basis of paired T tests. In the post-class discussion, we will discuss pedagogies that Anita chooses to challenge and integrate the diverse learners in her course.

Date: Wednesday, February, 18th
Time: Class: 11:10-1:00 (class, 11:10-12:00; discussion, 12:00-1:00)
Class location: Stevenson Center 5312
Discussion location: Stevenson Center 5312
Facilitator: Cynthia Brame

Faculty of Any Rank REGISTER NOW

Associate Professor of English
ENGL 199: Foundations of Literary Study

Imaginative Writing: Joining the Conversation Lorraine Lopez is an associate professor of English and co-director of Vanderbilt’s multidisciplinary program in Latino and Latina Studies. In this course, Lorraine helps her students consider the questions of what literature is and why it matters, using the students’ own creative work as a tool in this investigation. During the visit, Lorraine will guide students as they workshop five works of creative non-fiction written within the class, applying concepts and techniques from previous class discussion to a consideration of their own works. In the post-visit discussion, we will discuss how Lorraine scaffolds the class to help students develop the skills they need for this type of critique, including how she helps students see and negotiate power differences in considering others’ creative works.

Date: Tuesday, February 24th
Time: Class: 1:10-3:25 (class, 1:10-2:25; discussion, 2:25-3:35)
Class location: West Hall 107
Discussion location: West Hall 102
Facilitator: Nancy Chick

Faculty of Any Rank REGISTER NOW

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Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Jesse Blocher

Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Jesse Blocher, Assistant Professor of Finance, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests:

I teach Corporate Valuation to MBA, MSF, and MAcc students at the Owen Graduate School of Business. Students come into my class motivated to learn, but often want to cut right to a “recipe". My main challenge is to push them to understand the theoretical underpinnings of *why* they do certain things and so develop a broader (and more useful) skill set. My secondary challenge is to fit in all the topics needed to finish with a useful tool set of skills.

" I run a ‘flipped’ classroom because I believe that my in-class time is best used to clarify confusing topics and to push into more advanced areas rather than to introduce simple, beginning concepts that can be picked up through readings or online videos."

My teaching philosophy incorporates active ‘learning by doing’ applied to real-world problems. Finance has a heavy emphasis on problem solving skills, and I believe that those skills are only developed through practice. I run a ‘flipped’ classroom because I believe that my in-class time is best used to clarify confusing topics and to push into more advanced areas rather than to introduce simple, beginning concepts that can be picked up through readings or online videos.

In class, I either have class-wide discussions based on readings/videos the students have read/watched ahead of time or we do in-class problem solving. For the discussions, I ask questions and guide the discussion and often try to generate questions. For instance, there may be two approaches that seem to be in conflict, or two different equations to compute the same value. For in class problems, I set them up to work on the problem, encourage working together, and circulate to help as needed.

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Grad Students, Come Work at the CFT!


Each year the Center for Teaching (CFT) hires a number of graduate students as part of its efforts to mentor and train graduate students, including those serving as teaching assistants or instructors of record here at Vanderbilt as well as those interested in developing teaching skills for future faculty careers. The CFT has several types of positions available for graduate students for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Graduate Teaching Fellows – GTFs lead sections of the Certificate in College Teaching program; consult with graduate students about their teaching; facilitate workshops for graduate students at TA Orientation and throughout the year; and assist CFT senior staff with various ongoing and short-term projects, including the creation of online resources for the Vanderbilt teaching community. The GTF position is a 12-month position carrying a $24,000 stipend and graduate student health insurance. Learn more about the GTF Program.

Mellon Graduate Teaching Fellow– The Mellon GTF leads the seminar and practicum for the Mellon Certificate in Humanities Education program. Graduate student and post-doc participants in this program explore and develop teaching skills with special emphases on teaching in the humanities and teaching historically underrepresented populations, including first-generation college students and students of color. The Mellon GTF position is a 12-month position carrying a $24,000 stipend and graduate student health insurance, and is open to graduate student applicants in the humanities. Learn more about the Mellon Program.

WIDER Fellows – Funded by an NSF WIDER grant, these graduate students support the planning, implementation, and assessment of “An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching,” an open, online course designed for STEM graduate students and post-docs planning faculty careers. Graduate students with interests in STEM teaching and online teaching are encouraged to apply. The WIDER Fellow is a 10-month position carrying a $20,000 stipend and graduate student health insurance.

Teaching Affiliates – The primary responsibility for Teaching Affiliates is to lead a cohort of incoming TAs through a day-long workshop at August’s TA Orientation. These workshops familiarize new TAs with the challenges and opportunities of working at TAs at Vanderbilt and help prepare TAs for the first few weeks of class. Cohorts are divided by discipline, and so the CFT seeks Teaching Affiliates from a wide variety of disciplines on campus. The Teaching Affiliate position is an 80-hour position, with most of those hours occurring in August 2015, carrying a $1,000 stipend.

These positions are great opportunities for graduate students to refine their teaching and presentation skills and network with graduate students outside of their department or program.

Applications for all four types of positions are due by
4pm on Monday, February 16, 2015.

Learn more about each of these positions and apply online by visiting the CFT's employment opportunities page.

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CIRTL Network Development Opportunities

Description: Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) is an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. CIRTL has opened registration for upcoming course opportunities. These are free, online events for grad students and post-docs in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) interested in faculty careers. January sessions include the following:

FREE CIRTLCast Series: Educational Innovation and the Active Classroom

Developing Simulations as an Educational Strategy
February 10, 2015
11:00 -12:00

Conducting Assessments During Your STEM Course
February 17, 2015
11:00 -12:00

"Size Counts" and Other Fallacies of Successful Active Learning Strategies
February 14, 2015
11:00 -12:00

For further information and to log in to the sessions, please visit

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From the Stacks...


Linked Courses for General Education and Integrative Learning: A Guide for Faculty and Administrators
Margot Soven, editor

This book focuses on the learning community model that is the most flexible to implement in terms of scheduling, teacher collaboration, and design: the linked course. This volume covers both “linked courses” in which faculty may work to coordinate syllabi and assignments, but teach most of their courses separately, as well as well as “paired courses” in which two or more courses are team taught in an integrated program in which faculty participate as learners as well as teachers. The author and her colleagues present powerful illustrations and instructive case studies of effective pedagogy, programs and assessment approaches, and address the organizational structure challenges that can make learning communities more effective, sustainable, and widespread.


Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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