In this issue







Check out these recent posts to our blog.

Thinking STEM, Teaching STEM: A Blog Series

Creating Active Learning Environments at the Next Gen #LearningSpaces Conference

A Conversation on Flipped Classrooms
















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CFT YouTube Channel

View a video on the CFT YouTube Channel where you can hear more about the BOLD program from participating faculty and graduate students Click the image to view the video.














May 2015

From the Director:

By Derek Bruff, CFT Director

On April 21st, the Center for Teaching held a symposium as the final event in our “Teaching, Difference, and Power” theme year.  The CFT selected this theme for 2014-15 as a way to explore the challenges all educators face in negotiating difference and power in their classrooms.  When we selected the theme, over a year ago, we had no idea that the intersection of difference and power would become such a significant part of the national discourse this year, due to tragedies in Ferguson and New York City and elsewhere.

Such events have highlighted the importance of helping our students—and ourselves—think more deeply and critically about difference and power.  The symposium was an opportunity to learn how faculty, staff, and students across campus have been engaging in this challenging work, and to discuss steps we can take together to develop a more inclusive and equitable environment for teaching and learning.

I was particularly struck by a statement made by our opening speaker, Rosevelt Noble, Senior Lecturer in Sociology.  Drawing on his “Lost in the Ivy” research, which involves on dozens of in-depth interviews with black Vanderbilt students and alumni, he noted that for black students at Vanderbilt, the classroom is often last on their list of “safe” places where they can be themselves.

At the symposium, we heard from several people trying to address this significant problem, including representatives of three Vanderbilt student groups.  Akaninyene Ruffin, president of Hidden Dores; Akailah Jenkins, president of Vanderbilt NAACP; and Richard Blissett, leader of Crucial Conversations, gave those in attendance a sense of the challenges of being students of color at Vanderbilt, and also described their groups’ intentional, constructive efforts to affect change on campus. 

We also heard from faculty who have built academic programs attentive to issues of difference and power.  Astronomy professor Keivan Stassun described the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program, which has become a pipeline for students of color to enter science and engineering faculty positions, and Spanish professor William Luis detailed the development of Vanderbilt’s new Latino and Latina Studies program, which has increased the attention to difference within the curriculum.

And, thanks to a video produced by the CFT’s Brielle Hardin and Rhett McDaniel, we heard insights from participants in learning communities on race and power that the CFT hosted this year.  The faculty members and graduate students in these learning communities shared reflections on challenging classroom dynamics, including stereotype threat and microagressions, along with strategies they have adopted to foster more inclusive and critical classroom discussions.

Over the past year, the CFT has developed a number of resources to help instructors understand and respond to issues of difference and power in their teaching.  See, for instance, our new teaching guides on increasing inclusivity in the classroom, teaching students with disabilities, and feminist pedagogy. See also the series of videos on inclusive teaching in the STEM classroom we produced for an open, online course on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teaching.

The symposium concluded with an engaged set of small-group conversations, during which attendees shared their own experiences and perspectives and discussed steps they and others at Vanderbilt might take to continue creating a diverse and democratic campus culture.  A number of ideas were floated: making conversations about difference more public, examining our own biases and positions of power, hiring a chief diversity officer, increasing faculty diversity, providing better support for women faculty and faculty of color, enhancing attention to difference and power in the curriculum, adding questions about inclusivity to student course evaluations, providing training on inclusive teaching.

The CFT will continue its efforts on that last point, with workshop opportunities next year for faculty and graduate student instructors, as well as continuing conversations about difference and power in the classroom.  We hope you’ll join us.  These are hard conversations to have, but they are important ones.

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Certificate in College Teaching Graduates

Congratulations to the 58 participants who completed the Certificate in College Teaching this past year! The purpose of the Certificate in College Teaching, co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and the Graduate School, is to assist graduate students and post doctoral fellows who wish to gain a clearer, deeper, more active approach to teaching and learning in higher education. For more details on the program, visit the CiCT webpage.


Kristie Aamodt
Rachel Aaron    
Claire Abernathy
Deann Armstrong
Thomas Beckermann
Robert Boer
Scott Brown
Caroline Cecot
Karen Childress     
Crystal Coolbaugh
Isi Ero-Tolliver
Benjamin Fisher  
Shannon Franklin  
Joyonna Gamble-George

Min Gao
Andrea Gardiner
Douglass Godwin
Noah  Green
Samantha Gustafson
Allan Heritage  
Kendra  Hinton
Mary Hutchens  
Paul  Hylbert
Patricia Jumbo Lucioni
Mary Keithly      
Bradley Kraemer 
Elissa Ledoux    
Esther Lindstrom
Steven Lipson
Meridith Long

Abbey Mann
Allison  McGrath
Tatiana McInnis
Smriti Mishra
Hajime Mitani
Hasina Mohyuddin
Jose Rafael Montenegro Burke
Hubert Muchalski
Barbara  Natalizio
J. Scott Niezgoda
Elise Pfaltzgraff
Nicole Rachfall
Jonathan  Redding
Carolyn Roush
Petal Samuel

Leah  Sigle
Kristy Snyder
Erick Spears
Yan Su
Matthew Thompson
Amie Thurber
Kathryn West
Jonathan Williams
Megan Williams
Hatun Zengin-Bolatkale
Jie Zhao
Joyce Zhu
Xuan Zhang

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Mellon Certificate Graduates

The Mellon Certificate in Humanities Education is a special section of the CiCT reserved for humanities graduate students and post-docs as part of the Vanderbilt’s Mellon Partners for Humanities Education project. Like the CiCT, the Mellon Certificate program is comprised of a sequential seminar and practicum. We congratulate the graduate students who received certificates.

Adam  Burgos
Richard  Coble
Dorothy Dean
Jennifer  Dunn

Stephanie  Higgs
Kristen  Navarro  
Danyelle  Valentine
Steven Wenz

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Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows

The CFT acknowledges these junior faculty who participated in the JFTF program this year!

This year's Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows, left to right,
Jesse Blocher (Finance), John Bradley (English),
Lily Claiborne (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Alex Da Fonte (Special Education),
Ken MacLeish (Medicine, Health, and Society and Anthropology), Dan Morgan (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Haerin Shin (English), and Pietro Valdastri (Mechanical Engineering).

We are now accepting applications for 2015-16. Tenure-track and non-tenure track, full-time faculty between their second and sixth years are eligible to apply. Fellows also will receive $2000 in research funds each to be used to enhance their teaching. For more details on the program or to apply, visit the JFTF webpage.

Applications are due May 15th.

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Blended & Online Learning Design (BOLD) Fellows


Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching and the CIRTL Network (Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning) share a mission to enhance excellence in undergraduate teaching by offering the BOLD Fellows program. The CFT honors the six faculty/student teams that created online instructional modules during the program's inaugural year!

We invite you to hear presentations of their work on Wednesday, May 27, 11:30-1:00.

  • 11:30-12:15 Oral presentations by Mary Keithly, Udo Obodo, and Faizan Zubair in MRBIII 1220.
  • 12:15-1:00 Poster presentations by Dave Caudel, Ty McCleery, and Emilianne McCranie in the MRBIII atrium.
  • Refreshments will be provided.

Bold Fellow teams

Susan Stewart
, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Erika Grundstrom, Director of Astronomy Labs, working with David Caudel, Astronomy

Kathy Friedman,
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Mark Woelfle, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences (not pictured), working with Mary Keithly, Chemistry

Shane Hutson, Associate Professor of Physics, working with Tyler McCleery, Physics

Michelle Sulikowski
,Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, working with Emilianne McCranie, Chemistry

imageSteve Baskauf, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences, working with Udo Obodo, Biological Sciences

Paul Laibinis
,Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, working with Faizan Zubair, Chemical Engineering

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

This 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 August for implementation and assessment in the following 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 May 15th; decisions will be made by June 1st.

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