September 2018
Vanderbilt Instructors Open Their Classroom Doors on
September 24, 25 and 26
Would you like to watch one of your colleagues teach to see how they manage the classroom, engage students, or address challenging subjects? Do you ever feel like you toil in private to learn how to teach? You’re not alone.
Too often in higher education we instructors do not have the opportunity to watch and discuss each other’s teaching, and therefore we struggle in what Lee Shulman has called, “pedagogical solitude.” The Center for Teaching has long worked to change this isolation by creating occasions for pedagogical community.
For a third year, we are proud to offer three intensive days of teaching visits. On September 24 - 26, classes taught by some of the most thoughtful and intentional teachers across Vanderbilt’s many disciplines will open their classroom doors to faculty and graduate students.
Each day will highlight a focus area:
  • Engaging students in large classes
    (Monday, September 24th)
  • Teaching writing
    (Tuesday, September 25th)
  • Teaching inclusively
    (Wednesday, September 26th)
Each of the three days will conclude with a reception and discussion at 4pm in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library Community Room.
Teaching in the Context of
Hate Speech
As classes begin and the difficulties of teaching are more immediate, one challenge that presents itself in light if recent events is how to help students who may encounter hate speech. CFT Assistant Director, Joe Bandy, wrote a blog post in support of those searching for resources to meet this challenge. We hope it is helpful.
Newest Release of Top Hat Polling System Features Advanced Brightspace Integration

Vanderbilt’s student polling tool, Top Hat, now includes advanced integration features that allow instructors to sync their Brightspace rosters and Top Hat grade information between the two platforms. This integration makes student registration easy and allows grades to be easily moved from Top Hat to your Brightspace course.
You can learn more about Top Hat during one of the two upcoming webinars. Kara Dingboom, Vanderbilt’s Enterprise Account Manager at Top Hat, will help you become familiar with the functions and features of the product and answer any questions you have about about the platforms latest features. Learn more at Top Hat at Vanderbilt.
Top Hat Webinar Dates
Date: Tuesday, September 11th
Time:  10:00
–  11:00
An email with the link for you to join the webinar will be sent prior to the event.
Date: Wednesday, September 26
Time: 2:00 –  3:00
An email with the link for you to join the webinar will be sent prior to the event.

September Brightspace Workshops and Drop-in Hours
Come the the CFT and get individual help during Brightspace drop-in hours or by appointment in a one-on-one consult with one of our instructional technologists. You can also email us at or check out this collection of step-by-step guides for help getting started.
Turnitin Feedback Studio Webinar
Feedback Studio allows you to check for possible plagiarism and provide feedback for submitted documents in one place.  If you are already using Feedback Studio, you will also be able to ask any questions you might have.
Date: Thursday, September 27th
Time: 10:00 -11:00

An email with the link for you to join the webinar will be sent prior to the event. 
Mid-Semester Student Feedback
The feedback students provide about your teaching on their end-of-semester course evaluations can be valuable in helping you improve and refine your teaching.  Soliciting mid-semester student feedback has the additional benefit of allowing you to hear your students’ concerns while there is still time in the semester to make appropriate changes.  A Small Group Analysis (SGA) takes this one step further by involving a CFT consultant to help.
An SGA is a method of gathering anonymous feedback from students about what is helping them learn and what is not, in a course.  This service is an excellent way to assess students’ response to your teaching mid-semester.  The SGA results will remain completely confidential—only you and the CFT consultant will see them. 
Our website has more information on our SGA service.  To schedule an SGA, simply call the CFT at 322-7290.  And if you’re interested in gathering feedback from your students on your own, please see our “Gathering Feedback from Students” teaching guide for ideas and tools. 
Share this newsletter
Follow The CFT Online
facebook logotwitter logoreflectreflect
Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Sophie Bjork-James and
Yuankai Kenny Tao
Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Sophie Bjork-James, Anthropology, and Yuankai Kenny Tao, Biomedical Engineering, talk about their teaching philosophy and interests.
Sophie Bjork-James
I teach anthropology classes on reproductive politics, race and racism, and climate change. Modeling how to engage in controversial conversations in productive ways is thus a focus of my teaching. As an educator I understand my responsibility is to provide students with tools to develop the critical thinking skills needed to understand—not simply reduce—complexity. I encourage students to develop new insights into the social and political worlds they find themselves in, to better understand how power operates in material and symbolic ways, and to develop intellectual confidence and writing skills. By focusing on an approach to learning where students produce and not just consume knowledge, I seek to inspire an active interest in contemporary social problems.
I often assign ethnographic research projects related to course themes, where students are responsible for designing a unique research project involving participant observation and interviews. This gives students the opportunity to gain experience completing original research and placing their own unique data within a broader theoretical argument. In turn, this makes course themes come to life in memorable ways. When appropriate, I organize in-class skype interviews with ethnographers or practitioners so that students feel as though they are active participants in an intellectual community that extends beyond the classroom. And I try to bring students out of the classroom for fieldtrips whenever possible.
One of my favorite assignments is to have students produce digital media projects in lieu of course papers. This allows students to conduct the same types of intensive research and analysis as for a traditional paper, but then includes additional learning around digital media design. Students learn to use storyboards to scaffold their argument and evidence into a narrative and then produce a video, podcast, or interactive website around that scaffold. Given the media-saturated environments we reside in today, providing students with skills to engage and contribute to the media environments they find themselves in is an important focus of my teaching.  
Yuankai (Kenny) Tao
I have been an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University since 2016. I am the director of the Diagnostic Imaging and Image-Guided Interventions Laboratory (DIIGI Lab) and I have a secondary appointment in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. I received my BSE, MS, and PhD in Biomedical Engineering all from Duke University and completed my postdoctoral training in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. My research is focused on the development of novel optical imaging systems by leveraging technologies in engineering and biomedical sciences to create multimodal imaging tools for the clinical diagnosis and treatment monitoring of pathologies in ophthalmology, gastroenterology, and oncology.
Optical imaging techniques are particularly attractive for visualizing tissue morphology, biological dynamics, and disease pathogenesis because they allow for noninvasive access to subcellular-resolution diagnostic information. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a novel imaging modality that allows for fast, noncontact, high-resolution volumetric imaging of weakly scattering tissue. Two-photon microscopy (TPM) has advantages of high resolution, molecular-specificity, and improved imaging depth and contrast over conventional white-light and fluorescence microscopes, enabling endogenous and exogenous contrast imaging in both in vivo and ex vivo specimens. Finally, functional optical imaging techniques, such as spectroscopy and Doppler velocimetry, enhance optical contrast by detecting properties of tissues, such as oxygenation and blood flow, that are correlated with cellular metabolism and early indicators of disease.
CFT Thanks Our Teaching Affiliates! 
L to R: Sara Eccleston (Human & Organizational Development), Andrea Gardiner (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Sofia Jimenez (Psychology and Human Development), Ethan Joll (Biomedical Engineering), Ashley Kim (Sociology), Cait Kirby (Biological Sciences), Danielle Kopke (Biological Sciences), Jose Luis de Ramon Ruiz (Spanish and Portuguese), Aaron Stevens (Physics and Astronomy), Katie Yewell (Economics)
Every August, the Center for Teaching offers Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO) to all new TAs as a way to learn about TA duties, policies and resources, best practices in teaching, and to come away with some useful tools for immediate use in the classroom.
We wouldn’t be able to make this happen without our wonderful cohort of Teaching Affiliates, who come from all over campus to lead our breakout disciplinary sessions at TAO.  We’d like to thank them for all of their hard work with TAO this year.
Thank you, CFT Teaching Affiliates!
CFT Announces New Graduate Teaching Fellows
L to R: Robert Marx (Human and Organizational Development), Alex Oxner (English), Greg Smith (Earth and Environmental Sciences), and Chelsea Yarborough (Religion)
The Center for Teaching is excited to announce the Graduate Teaching Fellows for 2018-19. GTFs provide a variety of services for Vanderbilt’s graduate, post docs and professional students, including one-on-one consultations on teaching issues and professional development, syllabus and course design, interpreting and responding to student evaluations, writing teaching statements, and engaging techniques such as discussion leading, lecturing, and using technology in the classroom.

In addition to fostering initiatives such as the Certificate in College Teaching program and the Certificate in Humanities Teaching & Learning program, they also create and facilitate Teaching Assistant OrientationTeaching Workshops, and help facilitate/support CFT learning communities and working groups.

To schedule an appointment with a GTF, please call 322-7290. 
Vanderbilt’s Ed Tech Podcast Kicks-off Fourth Season

In the first episode of the new season, we hear from Bryan Dewsbury, assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Rhode Island. He’s incredibly passionate about student success, and he uses technology in ways that are fully supportive of his pedagogical goals. His approach to teaching introductory biology isn’t the typical one, and we are glad to have him share his story here on the podcast.
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.
©2016 Vanderbilt University · The Center for Teaching 
1114 19th Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37212
Phone: 615-322-7290 Fax: 615-343-8111
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.