March 2021
Upcoming Meeting Around Teaching and Race
On April 2nd, from 12:30pm to 2:00pm, at this link, we will focus our attention on what faculty can do to close race (and other) performance and persistence gaps across the disciplines.  Throughout 2020-21, a group of STEM faculty have met to discuss their concerns with disparities that exist between underrepresented and well-represented groups of undergraduate students, particularly disparities of persistence in STEM majors. In their discussions they have concentrated on insights from their own experience and from the book, Talking about Leaving Revisited, a five-year study that explores the causes of field-switching among STEM majors and the factors that enable persistence to graduation. Members of this faculty group including William Robinson (Vice Provost for Academic Advancement and Executive Director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence, and VU School of Engineering), Kathy Friedman (Biological Sciences), Adriane Seiffert (Psychology), and Thomas Clements (Biological Sciences) will join the Teaching and Race learning community to share what they have learned and discuss reforms to teaching practices that may reduce performance and persistence disparities across the disciplines.

Supporting LGBTQI+ Students
In March, the CFT, the K.C. Potter Center and Office of LGBTQI Life, and the Faculty Senate, are proud to co-sponsor two discussions about how faculty and staff can better support LGBQI+ students.
On March 12th (12:00-1:30pm), after some preparatory readings/videos on various social and academic challenges LGBTQ+ students confront in higher education, participants will come together to hear about approaches that experienced faculty/staff take to making their teaching, advising, and mentoring more supportive and inclusive.  Drawing on their own experience and research from the scholarship on higher education, this discussion will explore critical pedagogical approaches to supporting LGBTQ+ students, inclusive practices of teaching and advising, relational skills helpful to fostering acceptance and belonging, and campus resources for LGBTQ+ students, among others.
On March 26th (12:30-2:00pm), and as a follow-up to the discussion on March 12th, participants will discuss ways we as a community of educators can develop a more effective network of support for LGBTQ+ students at Vanderbilt. Participants will explore ways they can further develop their own approaches to inclusive teaching and advising, and what our units, departments, and schools can do to foster a more diverse and accepting campus culture.
If you are interested in attending, please register at this link.  We hope to see you there!

Transform your teaching with Perusall with Eric Mazur

Learning is a social experience — it requires interactions and interactivity. The coronavirus pandemic has been a good opportunity to rethink our approach to teaching. Moving some tasks to an online format suggests that many activities that have traditionally been synchronous and instructor-paced, can be made asynchronous and self-paced. Through Perusall, we will demonstrate how to move information transfer and sense-making online and make it interactive, promoting social interactions between students. In addition, we will discuss how the platform promotes intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to improve student performance.

Date: Friday, March 12
Time: 1:30pm (CST)
Location: Web link will be provided to registrants
Facilitator: Eric Mazur, Harvard University Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics

New Blog Series Asks Faculty to Share What Practices They Will Carry Forward in
Post-pandemic Teaching
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the resulting shift to alternative modes of instruction, faculty and other instructors had to practice a form of adaptive teaching to meet the learning needs of their students. As the fall semester came to a close, CFT graduate teaching fellow Mohammad Meerzaei interviewed faculty members from across the campus asking one provocative question: How did this period of adaptive teaching make them better instructors? In this blog series titled Never Going Back, instructors reflect on their experiences teaching during this challenging year and share new teaching practices and beliefs about teaching that they will carry into their post-pandemic teaching. 

View the full blog series
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Apply to be a Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow!
We are now accepting applications for the 2021-22 Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program. The program is designed to help you:
  • Build understanding of principles of learning to inform your teaching
  • Stock your teaching toolkit with new skills and approaches
  • Develop a framework for course design
  • Build teaching community
Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows receive $2000 in research funds to be used to enhance their teaching. Tenure-track and non-tenure track, full-time faculty who will be in their second through sixth year in 2021-2022 are eligible to apply.
Application Deadline: Friday, April 30
For more details on the program or to apply, visit the JFTF webpage

Spring Science Teaching Lunch Series

The Science Teaching Lunch series resumes in Spring 2021, typically meeting on the third Friday of the month from 12-1. In these lunches, we invite faculty to discuss common teaching challenges and to seek ideas and solutions from colleagues and the literature on science teaching and learning—in the past, over lunch, but now, over Zoom. 
This semester, the lunches will start with “Hits and Misses,” which will be an opportunity for participants to share successes and challenges from their pandemic teaching, either to let others know what is working in their hands or to get ideas to make their efforts more successful. This informal conversation will be followed by a more focused discussion of a particular teaching-related resource. The topics will be:   

Maximizing student attention in class
March 26, 12-1 (note: fourth Friday of the month)

Teaching problem-solving
April 16, 12-1

Email Cynthia Brame at for Zoom information. 

Active Learning Online: Five Key Principles with  Stephen M. Kosslyn
Active learning leads to substantially better learning than occurs with traditional lecturing. This workshop will review the nature of active learning and explain why it is so effective. The workshop will focus on five fundamental principles drawn from the science of learning; these principles range from Deep Processing (the more mental effort one expends when processing information, the more likely it is to be remembered) to Chunking (humans can only absorb about four organized units at the same time, but each of those units can have up to four parts) to Deliberate Practice (practice is most effective when one uses feedback to focus on the most difficult aspects of the knowledge or skill). We will not only review the principles, but also see how to apply them to teaching—particularly when teaching online, both in synchronous settings  and in asynchronous settings. The workshop will practice what it preaches by relying on many demonstrations and illustrations of key points.
Date: Thursday, March 25th
Time: 3:00 – 4:00 (CST)
Location: A Zoom link will be provided to registrants
Facilitator: Dr. Stephen M. Kosslyn,  Author of Active Learning Online: Five Principles that Make Online Courses Come Alive, and Founder of Active Learning Sciences, Inc.

Leading Lines Podcast Features Jesse Stommel

Jesse Stommel
is an author, speaker, and teacher with a focus on education, critical digital pedagogy, and documentary film. He’s the co-founder of the Digital Pedagogy Lab, a fantastic professional development workshop for those interested in critical digital pedagogy. He’s also the co-founder of Hybrid Pedagogy, the journal of critical digital pedagogy. And he’s the co-author of An Urgency of Teachers: The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy
You can hear this podcast episode, as well as others you've missed, by visiting the Leading Lines website, searching for “Leading Lines” in iTunes, or subscribing via RSS.  You can also follow us on Twitter, @LeadingLinesPod.

Goal-driven Course Design Refined by Data on Students’ Learning: A Case Study
Goal-driven course design refined by data on students’ learning is a cornerstone of CFT philosophy and practice. Ethan Joll, a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering, offers a compelling description of his own data- and goal-driven course design for a section of TA Orientation. It’s a fantastic case study that highlights the value of gathering information from your students to help shape learning experiences and the benefits of gathering post-instruction to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Read about Ethan’s data-informed backward design approach.

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