January 2020
Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Allison Leich Hilbun

Each year, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Allison Leich Hilbun, Biological Sciences, talks about some of the most useful lessons she has gotten from the Fellowship.      
Participation in the JFTF program has been exceedingly enlightening. I am excited about what I have learned regarding prior knowledge; although coming into a class knowing information about the subject can be beneficial for students, it can also be particularly detrimental due to misguided initial assumptions. I intend to implement strategies during the beginning of semesters to initially use terminology that will allow students to begin to build foundations detached from potentially harmful prior suppositions.
More specifically, I teach a seminar on the topic of collective intelligence in different classes of animals. It can be quite difficult to even begin to define what collective intelligence is; people disagree about whether there must be a large degree of emergent phenomenon or individual awareness to qualify as collective intelligence. Further, because intelligence is highly prized in society, especially in high achieving students, students generally come into the class with strong preconceived notions of what intelligence is and then use that to frame their perception of how collective intelligence may work, and how it should be quantified. This can be confusing and problematic in that collective intelligence should be distinguishable from the sum of the intelligent parts of the system.  When asked to develop a quantification metric for collective intelligence,  students often struggle to design a methodology that would specifically test for collective intelligence and not individual intelligence.
For example, collective intelligence evaluations for a group of birds based upon time to open a puzzle box, depending upon the specifics, would need to appropriately account for task distribution, communication, random chance, and inter-bird intelligence variability. Also, there would be a need to compare the predicted group improvement from summed individual contributions with the empirical decrease of time, instead of just assuming the existence of true nascent group intelligence because being in a group seems to reduce the time to solve the puzzle. I perceive that initially discussing the topic in terms of group emergent phenomena will help the students conceptualize this dynamic differently, after which the term collective intelligence can be better evaluated. For instance, we will watch video clips of animal behavior and discuss our perceptions on whether emergent phenomena have manifested, agree as a group on a quantification method, discuss how we would define individual intelligence, and then go back to each animal and debate whether the individual intelligence of those creatures influenced their remarkable group abilities.
In addition, I have enhanced my rubric writing capability and have increased my understanding of how student motivation relates to the degree to which students conceptualize how level of insight can be evaluated. A third topic that has been heavily influential is the notion of preparing the course curriculum with specific goals in mind for what I desire students to be able to accomplish by the end of the semester. I have begun writing these specific objectives on my syllabi and informing my students of these aspirations. As we progressed during the semester, I also more clearly explained to students how the activities that I implemented would directly relate to my overall class goals. I perceive that this has resulted in enhanced motivation in students, as they seek to reach the challenging yet engaging goals.
Journal club: Understanding good practices for fostering undergraduate research
Many faculty consider undergraduate research to be the pinnacle of an undergraduate career, and departments across Vanderbilt provide opportunities for students to pursue a variety of research. As Immersion Vanderbilt matures, this commitment is only likely to grow. 
How do we foster productive research experiences for our students? What are good practices for helping students understand the research process, learn from their mistakes, and share their results with a larger audience?
In this learning community, we will explore the literature on undergraduate research, focusing on factors that we can influence as educators and mentors. The learning community will have a journal club-like structure, where we read one or two research articles for each meeting and discuss the implications for our practice.

If you are interested in participating, please provide your contact information here. CFT Associate Director Cynthia Brame will reach out to you the week of January 13 to identify a time for the group to meet.

Faster grading for free response assignments? Yes, please!
Gradescope is an online, FERPA compliant grading tool that professors can use to grade handwritten exams, typed homework assignments, lab reports and more. Gradescope works well for many types of questions: paragraphs, proofs, diagrams, fill-in-the-blank and true/false to name a few. If your students can upload a pdf of their work, you and your team can grade it! And, you can start using it for free at Vanderbilt, this semester.
Come learn more about this powerful tool and why six Vanderbilt professors have been using it for over four years already.
Date: Wednesday, January 22
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Location: Featheringhill 211
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Celebration of Learning 2020:
An Exhibition of Students as Producers
On February 13, 2020, the Center for Teaching will hold a Celebration of Learning, an exhibition of students as producers. The event will feature students from all over campus sharing what they have learned, created, designed, and discovered, providing the Vanderbilt community with a picture of deep learning across the colleges and schools.

We are inviting faculty and other instructors to recommend students to participate in the Celebration of Learning. We are particularly interested in showcasing work done by students as part of courses taught at Vanderbilt.
Have you asked your students to tackle open-ended problems, to operate with a degree of autonomy, or to share their work with wider audiences? Please think about students who might share a project from calendar year 2019.
Visit our Celebration of Learning event page for details.
Come Work at the
Center for Teaching! 
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 2020-2021 academic year.
Graduate Teaching Fellow – 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. Learn more about the GTF Program.
Teaching Affiliate – 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 as 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 a 70-hour position, with most of those hours occurring in August 2020.
CiCT Facilitator – The CiCT Program facilitator will, alongside the Graduate Teaching Fellows, lead a section of the CiCT program.  The facilitator will read and prepare lesson plans, lead class sessions, and attend weekly meetings with the GTFs.  When the CiCT program is in session (8 weeks per semester), the approximate workload will be between 5-10 hrs/week.
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.
Learn more about each of these positions and apply online by visiting the CFT's employment opportunities page. 
Applications for all three types of positions are due Tuesday,
January 21st, 2020.
Adobe Creative Cloud Pilot Program
The Adobe pilot program is designed to help faculty incorporate digital design tools into course activities and assignments in order to deepen and enhance student learning. This “Students as Producers” approach to course and assignment design is intended to help foster critical-thinking, creative problem-solving, multimodal learning, and creative collaborations opportunities that promote digital literacy skills for their students.
The program is open to all instructors of record in any school or department. No previous experience with Adobe products required. Faculty can also receive specialized training and consultation with CFT digital media staff about developing and piloting their assignment. 
Learn more about the program and participation criteria at cft.vanderbilt.edu/adobe.
Leading Lines Podcast Featuring Ian Bogost

Bogost is the Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the George Institute of Technology. He’s an author of multiple books, an award-winning game designer, and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. Ian studies games by making games and is an incredibly deep thinker about an impressively broad array of topics, as you’ll hear from this conversation. 
To hear the podcast episodes you've missed, visit the Leading Lines website, search for “Leading Lines” in iTunes, or subscribe via RSS.  You can also follow us on Twitter, @LeadingLinesPod

This program cosponsored by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and the Graduate School offers Ph.D. students and postdocs a chance to reflect on the ways that gender affects their experience as they begin their professional journey in the academy.
Negotiating your First Academic job
Date: Wednesday, December 4th
Time: 12-1:30
Location: Buttrick 123

For more information, visit the Women's Center website.
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