In this issue





Mellon Summer 2016 Accelerated Workshop
Seminar –  May 16th, 17th, 18th
Practicum – May 26th, 27th


Faculty Teaching Visit with Mark Schoenfield: English 3610 The Romantic Period
Date: Tues, Mar. 15th
Time: 11:00am-1:30pm
Location: Class, Buttrick 202 Discussion, in room Buttrick 162


Faculty Teaching Visit with Kane Jennings: CHBE4860/5860: Molecular Aspects of Chemical Engineering
Date: Mon, Mar. 21st
Time: 12:10pm-2:00pm
Location: Class, Olin Hall 135 Discussion, in room Olin Hall 135






Check out these recent posts to our blog.


EdTech Spotlight: Clickers, Critical Thinking, and Legal Education

Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Abby Parish

BOLD Fellows Program Helps Develop Online Instruction

Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Gabriel Briggs










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March 2016

Teaching Visit Opportunities in March

The CFT’s Teaching Visit program continues in March 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.

Mark Schoenfield
Professor of English

English 3610: The Romantic Period

Mark Schoenfield is a Professor of English, a winner of the Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Humanities, and a scholar of romanticism, existentialism, and law and literature. His teaching interests are in the latter areas. We will be visiting his course which explores the movement’s poetry and novels, particularly their historic significance, their aesthetic norms, and their transformation of social understandings. The course is organized around intensive reading and writing, as well as discussion and active learning, with student-led presentations.


Tuesday, March 15th   
11:00am-1:30pm (Class, 11:00am-12:15pm; Discussion, 12:30-1:30 pm)
Buttrick 202, Discussion in Buttrick 162
Vivian Finch

Faculty of any rank Register Here


Kane Jennings
Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

CHBE 4860/5860: Molecular Aspects of Chemical Engineering

Kane Jennings is the Department Chair and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His research efforts are aimed at the molecular design and fabrication of new surfaces and materials that mimic, replicate, or employ highly functional biological systems. The course explores the integration of molecular chemistry and property-based thermodynamic descriptions, with a focus on intermolecular energetics, for process analysis and product design. Case studies involve molecular, macromolecular, and biomolecular systems.


Monday, March 21st    
12:10pm-2:00pm (Class, 12:10-1:00pm; Discussion, 1:00-2:00 pm)
Olin Hall 135, Discussion in Olin Hall 135
Joe Bandy

Faculty of any rank Register Here

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Dr. Robbie Melton and The Rise of The Internet of Things

The Emergence of The Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Connected Devices and EduGadgets for Real-Time On-Demand Transformation of Education

BbDr. Robbie Melton,is Associate Vice Chancellor of Mobilization and Emerging Technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents, is speaking at Vanderbilt on the future of Internet of Things Smart Technologies (EduGadgets).

This hands-on showcase will highlight the latest innovations in emerging technologies and discuss the possibilities for future improvements in social and academic performance.

Dr. Melton’s appearance is made possible by the Wild Bunch Lecture Fund.


Wednesday, March 16th
Central Library Community Room

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“Students as Producers” Course Design Institute, May 9-11

BbThe CFT invites faculty members to apply to its new Course DesignInstitute on the theme of “Students as Producers.”  During the three-day institute (May 9-11, 2016), participants will design (or redesign) courses that engage students not only as consumers of information, but producers of knowledge.

Research by first- and second-year undergraduates conducted within a biology lab course. Original short stories written for a Spanish course. Video documentaries created by future teachers to explore social and philosophical aspects of education. A water conservation education program aimed at children, developed by students in a service-learning course. 

These were just some of the products of student learning exhibited in 2014 at the CFT’s Celebration of Learning.  The projects, posters, presentations, and performances shared at the event represented significant learning experiences for students. They also represented courses that were thoughtfully and intentionally designed by faculty to foster deep learning.

“Students as Producers” is shorthand for an approach to teaching that helps students become not just consumers of information, but also producers of knowledge, engaging in meaningful, generative work in the courses they take.  Through this year’s Course Design Institute, the CFT expands its efforts to support instructors in building these high-impact teaching practices into their courses.

Course Design Institute participants will…

  • Learn and apply a process for designing courses in which learning objectives, activities, and assessments are aligned;
  • Enhance their understanding of how students learn and apply that understanding to teaching in their disciplines;
  • Design assignments that foster deep learning by engaging students in meaningful, generative work; and
  • Expand their network of fellow Vanderbilt educators, connecting with peers with similar teaching interests.

Participants will leave the institute with course plans and draft syllabuses for courses to be taught in the following academic year.  Additionally, each participate will receive $500 in research funds to be used to enhance their teaching.

For more information or to apply, visit the Course Design Institute website. Applications are due Monday, March 28th.

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Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: David Diehl

Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, David Diehl, Human and Organizational Development, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests.

I teach in Peabody College’s Department of Human and Organizational Development, instructing undergraduates who are preparing for roles in various types of organizations and graduate students primarily interested in working for or studying community organizations. Given the diversity backgrounds my students bring with them into the classroom, I think pedagogical flexibility and accommodation is a key component of instruction.

" I attempt to provide students with both theoretical and practical research skills and provide flexible assignments that allow students to create personalized projects and papers based on their own specific needs and their particular place in their own research trajectory. "

My aim no matter the particulars of the context is to create an atmosphere that fosters learning even though students bring a wide variety of temperaments and experiences with them into the conversation. Regardless the specific class or students, I have two primary teaching goals. The first is to help students understand basic concepts or methods. This is fundamental for the second goal, which is for students to be able to use this knowledge creatively and critically – that is, to be able to use the tools they have learned for their own problem-solving needs in their research or future career. With undergraduates this has meant making case studies and other application activities central to my teaching.

Similarly, with graduate students I attempt to balance between seminal and foundational work that students need to know in order to engage with scholars in the field as well as research more aligned with their own interests. I attempt to provide students with both theoretical and practical research skills and provide flexible assignments that allow students to create personalized projects and papers based on their own specific needs and their particular place in their own research trajectory.

At the end of the day I feel very lucky to be teaching topics I care deeply about and continue to be fascinated by – and I hope to convey those feelings to my students.

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Blackboard Drop-in Sessions to Feature Grade CenterBb

Blackboard support continues to offer email, phone, and one-on-one consultations, or Blackboard users can take advantage of our library of on-demand resources. Drop-in support hours continue to be offered Mondays from 1-3pm. If you missed our January sessions, we discussed grade column organization and inline grading. February spotlight topics are listed below, however you should feel free to bring your own questions and concerns to the drop-in support hours. We can answer your questions on any topic and provide technical support.

Drop-in support hours
Mondays from 1-3pm.

March 14 -Grade Center: View/Clear Attempts
March 21 -   Grade Center: View Grade Details
March 28 - Grade Center: Points and Percentages

Please contact us at for more information.

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Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning calls for microgrant proposals

The Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL) in partnership with Vanderbilt University Information Technology (VUIT) is currently accepting proposals for microgrants.

VIDL will accept proposals for funding of up to $500 for faculty and staff with preference given to requests for the purchase of digital equipment to aid with innovative projects in teaching or research. Funding can be used to purchase minor equipment and software (e.g., microphones or cameras) meant to enhance innovation, and VUIT staff can offer advice on software and equipment purchases.

Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis year-round, and decisions on awards will be made once a month by the VIDL staff. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include

  • justification for the grant, explaining how it will lead to innovation in teaching or research by the faculty member; and
  • a budget with documented pricing.

Those receiving grants will be expected to provide

  • a brief report on their use of the equipment,
  • justification for its future use, and
  • possibility of sharing the experience at a forum at a later date.

Receipt of a microgrant does not include training or technical support.

Please address queries to Ole Molvig. Proposals should be directed to with the subject line “Microgrants.”

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BOLD Fellow presents at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

By Dani Picard, CFT Graduate Teaching Fellow

Samantha Tramontano, a graduate student in Earth & Environmental Science and CFT BOLD Fellow, presented her research on online instructional materials at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, which took place in San Francisco in December.

Samantha developed videos and online quizzes to help undergraduate geology students develop microscopy skills, a necessary skill that allows students to describe and distinguish Earth materials in the Earth Materials class in which the module was implemented.

According to Samantha, “Visual and spatial reasoning and understanding are important skills for many disciplines within the Earth Sciences, and developing those skills is one of the major challenges students face when they are first learning how to use microscopy as a tool for understanding optical mineralogy. Students struggle with building basic microscopy skills that are essential for their progression as Earth scientists.”

The videos show students what they should be looking for when examining minerals and demonstrate the observation protocols and spatial skills they will need to use. The videos are accompanied by low-stakes quizzes to allow students to assess their own understanding. Samantha found that these videos enabled students to be more self-sufficient in lab and enhanced their confidence and engagement.

Samantha developed this project with her faculty mentors, Dr. Guil Gualda and Dr. Lily Claiborne, through the BOLD program at the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching. She explains, “I was initially drawn to the BOLD program because it allowed me to explore creative ways to teach my favorite subject. Mineral studies labs tend to get a bad reputation for being difficult, and it was great to be part of an effort to make this subject more accessible and enjoyable! I also really like tinkering and making movies - I had done it in the past and was excited at the prospect of nudging a traditional geology subject into the future.”

The project has some surprises for Samantha. “The videos I created were used by students at Vanderbilt University and at Illinois State University. It was fascinating to see how differently the populations used the videos. Vanderbilt University students would consistently return to re-watch videos, but they would only watch ~65% of the total video. The Illinois State students would return less frequently to the videos, but they would be watching ~95% of the total video. Feedback was positive from both institutions, and it was cool to see that students are benefiting from watching these videos regardless of how they watched them.” 

Working with the BOLD program had important pedagogical effects on Samantha, including her thinking about interactivity in the classroom and the importance of student self-confidence. “This project has definitely made me more aware of how important it is for undergraduate students to have stimulating resources. There is a noticeable difference in the amount of attention that was required from me in lab between the year with the videos and the year without the videos. It is great to see that the videos have enabled students to be more confident and self-sufficient in lab and I can see myself implementing similar resources in any future teaching opportunities.”

Samantha adds that the most rewarding part of the conference was the feedback she received. “The feedback at the conference was really eye-opening. I had a number of people come up to me who were unfamiliar with the content but really interested in the implementation of the blended portion of the course. The people visiting came from a huge variety of institutions – a teacher from a private company in Australia, professors from an entirely online program, and professors teaching similar subjects. It was super cool!”

Check out more information on the project on her BOLD gallery page

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Schmidt Family Educational Technologies Lecturer, George Siemens, Scheduled for April 13th

George Siemens is a writer, theorist, speaker, and researcher on learning, networks, technology, analytics and visualization, openness, and organizational effectiveness in digital environments. He is the author of Knowing Knowledge, an exploration of how the context and characteristics of knowledge have changed and what it means to organizations today, and the Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning. Siemens is the Associate Director of the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University, leading the learning analytics research team.

He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences detailing the influence of technology and media on education, organizations, and society, having presented at conferences in more than 30 countries. His work has been profiled in provincial, national, and international newspapers (including NY Times), radio, and television. His research has received numerous national and international awards.

He has maintained the elearnspace blog for eleven years.

    Date: Wednesday, April 13th
    Time: 4:10 to 5:00pm
    Location: Jacobs Believed in Me Auditorium (Feathergill 134)

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Information Session: Teaching Opportunities at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN

Are you interested in gaining more teaching experience in science, mathematics, or engineering?  Come hear about opportunities to teach undergraduates at Austin Peay State University from a panel of faculty, deans and department chairs in the College of Science and Mathematics. The panel is hosted by the Vanderbilt BRET Office of Career Development.

APSU is a public university with over 10,000 students focused on the individualized needs of our students. Even as a public school we pride ourselves on offering smaller class sizes, fostering faculty/student relationships and offering unique opportunities that may not be available for students at other Universities. APSU is located in Clarksville, TN, just a short 45 min drive from Vanderbilt's campus.

There is an immediate need for graduate students and/or postdocs to serve as adjunct professors for the 2016-2017 school year.  Learn more about courses they offer, how students are taught, what the lab sections are like, and the students they serve.  APSU’s College of Science and Mathematics is interested in learning of your interest, and understanding how they might best accommodate your schedules to make this a successful endeavor for both the Ph.D. student/postdoc and their students. Come hear  how you can gain valuable teaching experience and receive mentorship from their established faculty members.

If you would like to learn more and meet some of the faculty from APSU, please come to an information session featuring: Don Dailey, Chair, Professor of Biology; Karen Meisch, Professor of Biology
and Associate Dean, College of Science and Mathematics; Lisa Sullivan, Chair, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Jaime Taylor, Professor of Physics and Dean, College of Science and Mathematics

Registration Required
Wednesday, March 9th
411 A-D Light Hall
1:30-2:30 pm, followed by a half-hour optional networking session

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