November 2017
Celebration of Learning: An Exhibition of Students as Producers

On Monday, January 29th, the Center for Teaching will hold a Celebration of Learning, an exhibition of students as producers. The event will feature posters, presentations, and performances by students from all over campus, sharing what they have learned, created, designed, and discovered. The event will provide the Vanderbilt community with a picture of immersive student 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 2017.

We’re interested in all types of student projects—podcasts, policy briefs, Wikipedia entries, service-learning projects, digital stories, human-centered design, Twitter fiction, original research, whatever! Most students will share posters or other visual representations of their work, but a few time slots will be available for readings, viewings, and performances. If you’d like to recommend a student, but aren’t sure how they might participate, just let us know and we’ll help you brainstorm.
To recommend a student, have them complete this participation form by January 12th. You can wait until the end of the fall semester to decide whom to recommend, or go ahead and recommend a student whose project is already complete. Please don’t invite all your students to participate; select one or two, or perhaps students who worked together on a group project. We are looking to instructors to help us identify students who have done interesting work.
If you’re interested in attending the Celebration of Learning, you can RSVP here. Questions about the event? Please contact CFT Program Coordinator Tracy Tveit.  
Apply to be a BOLD Fellow!
Want to create innovative online learning experiences? Investigate the impact of the experience on your students’ learning and share the results with colleagues?
The BOLD Fellows program helps graduate students from all disciplines design and develop online learning experiences, from building online learning modules to fostering online spaces for their students to interact. Each Fellow works with a faculty member who has identified a teaching “problem” in a particular course, working to develop a potential solution, integrate it into the faculty member’s course, and gather data on its impact on student learning. The program spans two semesters: the Spring 2018 “design and development” semester, in which Fellows receive training and support as they develop their module, and the Fall 2018 “implementation and assessment” semester, in which the Fellows implement the project, gather evidence, and work with the CFT to interpret and present their results.
Graduate students from all disciplines are encouraged to identify a faculty mentor, discuss a potential project, and apply by November 13. Previous projects from STEM participants are described in the BOLD project gallery; the program is expanding to include all disciplines and encourages applications that take novel, discipline-appropriate approaches.  
The Fellowship carries a $1000 stipend and the opportunity to apply for $500 to fund travel to present the project. For more information about the program, including application information, see the CFT’s BOLD program page.
Conversation on Teaching: Student-Produced Podcasts
Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, but the medium has experienced remarkable growth in recent years, thanks to increasing smart phone adoption and to very popular podcasts like Serial and Radiolab. Educational uses of podcasts are growing, as well. Some instructors create podcasts for use in their courses, others assign podcasts as “texts” for students to listen and respond do. But with the ready availability of podcast creation tools, it’s easier than ever for instructors to ask students to produce podcasts, connecting students with authentic audiences for their academic work.
In this conversation, we’ll hear from three instructors about their experiences with podcasts as course assignments. Panelists include John Sloop, professor of communication studies and associate provost for digital learning; Larisa DeSantis, assistant professor of earth and environmental studies; and Stacey M. Johnson, assistant director for educational technology at the Center for Teaching and senior lecturer of Spanish.

The conversation will be moderated by Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching. The conversation is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching, the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, and the Center for Digital Humanities.

Date: Tuesday, November 7th
Time: 2:30pm-4:00pm
Location: Central Library Community Room


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Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Sara Mayeux
Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Sara Mayeux, Law, talks about her teaching philosophy and interests.
Sara Mayeux
I teach Constitutional Law II, which is a large, upper-level law school course focused primarily on the Fourteenth Amendment, including equal protection and due process, and individual rights. We cover a range of topics in constitutional law as it relates to racial discrimination, sex/gender/sexual orientation discrimination, affirmative action, the right to privacy, abortion, and other hot-button issues. I also teach a small seminar on legal history, and this year will begin teaching another upper-level constitutional law course focused on the First Amendment.
What’s exciting about teaching constitutional law is that students come to class with a lot of engagement and interest in the material. Almost all of the cases we read and discuss are high-profile Supreme Court decisions—the kinds of cases that students might have pictured learning about when they first dreamed of coming to law school. Even if they do not become constitutional litigators, students want to understand these legal issues in their capacity as citizens and future leaders of their communities.
The challenge of teaching constitutional law, however, is that it often doesn’t seem very “law-like” to students. With each Supreme Court term, the doctrine is always changing, and there are fierce debates both within the Court and within society generally about how the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted and applied. As a result, this is an area of the law that can seem very fuzzy to students, especially in comparison to areas of the law governed by statutes and regulations (although, of course, one thing students hopefully take away from law school is that even those areas of the law that seem to have clear rules are almost always fuzzier than they first appear). What I hope to help students see is that constitutional law does have its own rules, standards, parameters, and repertoires of arguments, and making constitutional arguments is a skill that they can master with practice.
One thing that seems to help to make constitutional law more concrete is to provide examples of how lawyers marshal constitutional arguments in practice, in the more routine types of local cases that do not make national headlines and will likely never make it to the Supreme Court. In class, I try to incorporate discussion problems based on recent or pending cases in the lower courts so students can see how lawyers and judges grapple with applying the Supreme Court’s guidance to new scenarios and gain practice in doing this themselves.
Law school teaching is currently undergoing significant transition nationwide, as the American Bar Association has recently adopted a new accreditation standard requiring law schools to incorporate “both formative and summative assessment methods” into the curriculum. For decades, law school courses have primarily been taught in the traditional “Socratic” format, in which the professor cold-calls students to answer questions about the reading. In a traditional law school course, students complete few if any written assignments other than the final exam, which may constitute their entire grade for the course, and thus receive little feedback along the way about whether they are mastering the material. There are certainly benefits to Socratic teaching, such as giving future lawyers practice in oral advocacy and thinking on the spot. Overall, though, it would be hard to defend an exclusive reliance on the traditional approach—and especially the lack of formative feedback—in light of what we now know about pedagogy and cognitive psychology.
Law professors are increasingly experimenting with alternative or complementary approaches including small group work, more frequent quizzes rather than simply a final exam, writing assignments that mimic scenarios lawyers might encounter in practice, responsive technology, in-class problem-solving exercises, etc. Through the Teaching Fellows program, I hope to deepen my understanding of these different approaches and what works best for teaching in a law school setting.
Brightspace Drop-in Hours for November
During drop-in hours, faculty and staff who have Brightspace-related questions can stop by the workshop space of the CFT (even without an appointment) and find a team of specialists ready to assist.
Mondays 9-11am and 2-4pm
Tuesdays 9-11am
Wednesdays 2-4pm
Fridays 9-11am
We can get you up to speed with Brightspace’s new features, assist with building your course content, or help you solve technical problems.
Latest Podcast Episodes on Ed Tech in Higher Education
In the latest episode of Leadning Lines, we talk with Gilbert Gonzales, assistant professor of health policy at Vanderbilt. He discusses his interest in designing assignments for students that give them opportunities to make a different in the world outside their classroom. One of those assignments was “Health Policy Radio,” a podcast that he and his health policy students created. In the interview, he describes the assignment and the ways it enhanced his students’ learning.
To listen to the podcasts, visit the Leading Lines website, search for “Leading Lines” in iTunes, or subscribe via RSS.  You can also follow us on Twitter, @LeadingLinesPod.
Your Top Hat Questions Answered!
Now that you’ve had an opportunity to use Top Hat in your class, you may have additional questions to which you’d like to get an answer.
In this session, Kara Dingboom, the Vanderbilt Enterprise Account Manager, will field questions from the group, share some best practices that will help making your use of Top Hat more effective, and show some of the advanced features you may want to try out next semester.
Date: Wednesday, November 8th
Time:  11:00am – 12:00pm
Location: An email with the link for you to join the webinar will be sent prior to the event.
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