June 2021
My wife and I started birdwatching earlier this year. Working from home helped us appreciate the feathered residents of our backyard, and now we keep an eye out for colorful birds when we walk at places like Radnor Lake. And, as of this morning, we have an empty nest—literally. The family of house finches that nested in our front door wreath have moved on, with the three baby finches flying away for the first time.
The past year set the stage for many of us not only to learn new hobbies, but also to learn new ways to teach. Unlike birdwatching, our new teaching practices weren’t entirely optional; the need to teach in online and hybrid settings required us to learn new technologies and new pedagogies. But I know that many of us will carry what we’ve learned into our future teaching in more conventional settings, just as I will keep birdwatching this fall.
Reflecting on a year of adaptive teaching, determining what elements of that teaching to continue, and figuring out how to incorporate those elements in classroom teaching… all that will take time and energy. That’s why the Center for Teaching staff is slowing down this summer, looking back at the past year and taking some much needed time off. If you need us, don’t hesitate to reach out, but we’re not planning any new workshops or conversations until August.
In August, however, the Center will offer a variety of events on the theme of returning to the classroom. Making plans for the fall that take advantage of what we’ve learned this past year… there’s no reason to do that alone! Stay tuned for workshops and panels on educational technologies, classroom facilitation strategies, inclusive teaching approaches, and more this August, all designed to help the Vanderbilt teaching community foster meaningful student learning.
One more piece of news: I’m excited to welcome Seo Lim (Jenny) Park to the Center for Teaching team. Jenny is our newest instructional technologist, part of the Center’s Brightspace support team. Jenny comes to us from Brown University, where she just completed a Master of Arts in public humanities and served as a digital learning and design graduate fellow. Jenny’s position at the Center is a new one, recently approved by the provost to expand our Brightspace support capacity. Welcome, Jenny!
Derek Bruff, executive director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching

New Course Design Institute Focusing on Inclusive Teaching
The Center for Teaching was pleased to offer a Course Design Institute on Inclusive Teaching, May 24-27, in which participants (re)designed courses with a focus on all aspects of inclusive teaching, particularly engaging a diverse range of voices and perspectives, supporting student belonging and empowerment, developing productive dialogues about difficult subjects, providing accessible assignments and activities, and closing performance and persistence gaps.
We would like to thank the 36 participants for their many insights and their work to transform their courses, and to the many faculty and staff who gave of their time to support them, including Luis Leyva, Lily Claiborne, Sophie Bjork-James, Amanda Brockman, Bill Burgess, Stacy Simplican, Marcy Singer-Gabella, Carwil Bjork-James, Shane Hutson, Heather Fedesco, Lisa Fazio, Ipek Oguz, Rob Nelson, Rory Dicker, Franklin Ellis, and Jason Steinas. Together, all of you made the event a success and contributed to Vanderbilt’s efforts towards ever greater inclusion and equity.

Learning Community on Teaching and Race
In 2020-21, the CFT hosted a learning community dedicated to understanding the many challenges and opportunities of teaching issues of race, and supporting students of all racial identities and backgrounds.  In five events throughout the year, dozens of participants from across the disciplines engaged in a variety of conversations about the challenges of teaching race and racism, managing classroom conflicts around race through intergroup dialogue, faculty development for anti-racist teaching, culturally appropriate pedagogy, and closing performance and persistence gaps across the disciplines.  Several generous faculty and administrators gave of their time to support this valuable work, including William Robinson, Kathy Friedman, Thomas Clements, Adriane Seiffert, Rich Milner, Liz Self, Barbara Stengel, Jermaine Soto, Franklin Ellis, Graham Reside, Anthony Reed, and Abena Boakyewa-Ansah. Thank you for your expertise and guidance, and to all of the participants for your efforts to engage with such difficult issues in such difficult times.

Learning Community Focusing on the Needs of LGBTQI+ Students
This year, the CFT and the KC Potter Center for LGBTQI Life hosted a learning community on ways faculty can better support the needs of LGBTQI+ students.  Over twenty participants met throughout the year to explore LGBTQI+ student’s experiences inside and outside the classroom, to discuss scholarly literature on strategies for inclusion, and techniques of integrating these strategies into our teaching and mentorship. Thanks to all who participated so eagerly to support LGBTQI+ students across campus and to learn from one another’s powerful experiences, and especially to Stacy Simplican, Brenda McKenzie, Vanessa Beasley, Lyndsey Godwin, Alison Hammer, and Franklin Ellis for providing such caring and thoughtful guidance for all.  We also wish to express great gratitude for the tireless dedication and generosity of spirit of co-collaborators Rob Nelson, Catherine McTamaney, and Leah Roberts. All of you are helping to build systems of inclusion and support that extend to all corners of campus life.

CFT Celebrates Certificate in College Teaching Graduates
Congratulations to all the 54 graduate students and postdocs who completed the Certificate in College Teaching this spring! The Certificate in College Teaching (CiCT), co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and the Graduate School, prepares Vanderbilt graduate students and postdocs who wish to develop and refine their teaching skills. The certificate focuses on the research on learning and best teaching practices and supports the university’s pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. The certificate is ideal for graduate students who want to prepare for future careers in higher education teaching. For more details on the program, visit the CiCT webpage.

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Promoting Persistence in STEM Learning Community
STEM disciplines have long been concerned with disparities between underrepresented and well-represented student groups and the associated “pipeline” problem, where underrepresented students are more likely to switch away from STEM majors. A group of about eighteen faculty from eight departments met throughout 2020-2021 to explore approaches to increasing equity and inclusion in their courses and programs. In addition to identifying steps to take in their individual courses, the faculty produced a guide for making exams more effective and inclusive and contributed to a panel on reducing educational disparities. Thanks to group members Katie Clements, Thomas Clements, David Cliffel, Kathy Friedman, Jessica Gilpin, Guil Gualda, Vicki Greene, Richard Haglund, Shane Hutson, Doug McMahon, Jim Pask, Adriane Seiffert, Savanna Starko, Keivan Stassun, Kim Unertl, Megan Williams, and Ben Yett and to speakers Luis Leyva, Brittany Marshall, and Taylor McNeill

Investigating Student Learning Journal Club
This spring, a group of graduate students and faculty members worked with Graduate Teaching Fellow Leah Roberts and Associate Director Cynthia Brame to explore different approaches that can be used to investigate how and what our students are learning. Discussing research articles that illustrated a range of methods and questions, we identified possibilities for interrogating learning in our own classes. Thanks to Amanda Brockman, Celina Callahan-Kapoor, Jess Gilpin, Rachel Hanebutt, Brielle Harbin,  Sara Mayeux, Cole Meier, Dani Picard, Jose Luis De Ramon Ruiz, Melanie Schuele, Jim Sears, and Ben Yett; we can’t wait to see what you find in your own investigations!

Learning Assistant Pilot Program
Learning assistants (LAs) are undergraduate students who are guided by a faculty member to work with small groups of students to promote active learning in a course. The use of LAs has been found to be associated with increased sense of belonging and to increase inclusion, particularly in large courses. LAs were piloted in BSCI 1510: Introduction to Biological Sciences in Fall 2019 and Fall 2020. In Spring 2021, the Dean of Arts and Science supported the expansion of the LA program to multiple courses (with more to come in Fall 2021! More details here). Instructors using LAs in Spring 2021—or planning to use them in the future—met through the semester to discuss different approaches and to help solve problems. Shout outs to Hemant Badgandi, Liz Catania, Lily Claiborne, Katie Clements, Thomas Clements, Nicole Creanza, Kathy Friedman, Jess Gilpin, Lars Plate, Adriane Seiffert, and Jess Watkins, with special thanks to Heather Johnson, instructor for the pedagogy course taken by LAs. 

CFT Concludes Latest Online Course Design Institute
To help faculty prepare for teaching this Summer, we offered an Online Course Design Institute (OCDI). The institute was a revised and updated version of the institute that the Center for Teaching offered in summer 2020 to more than 500 participants. Participants worked in three cohorts led by CFT Senior Staff Members Cynthia Brame, Julaine Fowlin, and Stacey Johnson.
Participants came from several schools across campus, including Arts and Science, Law, Nursing, Owen, and Peabody. During the OCDI, participants were guided through a systematic approach to designing online courses and facilitating synchronous and asynchronous interactions. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about various technology tools and had the option to do an asynchronous micro-teaching session at the end. Participants reported that they found the cohort meetings helpful as they provided an opportunity to work in small groups and focus on specific individual needs.
We want to thank Nancy Hyer, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Owen Graduate School of Management, for facilitating a very informative breakout session on Gradescope.
"The covid19 pandemic exposed the areas of my course design that needed to be more adapted to online instructional design. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 2021 Summer OCDI. I learned evidence-based strategies for designing and presenting online materials in a way that is motivating, engaging, and rewarding for both students and faculty. I really got more than I was expecting. I learned how to use cutting-edge technology in course delivery. OCID is worth your time investment."
- Queen Henry-Okafor, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Online Teaching Learning Community
Even before the campus-wide move to online and remote teaching last year, the online teaching group was meeting regularly to explore challenges and opportunities. The Course Development Resources site (CDR), which has grown out of the work of this group over the last two years, is a self-paced guide to designing, building, teaching, or maintaining great courses in any modality, but particularly online. The CDR continues to expand as our group members develop new pages and guides as part of this learning community.
In the 2020-2021 academic year, we met monthly to think about and work on our own online and hybrid courses while also creating opportunities for others on campus to learn with us. This year, we presented two Conversation on Teaching events in January, one on Group Work and Student Collaboration Online facilitated by Julaine Fowlin and one on Accessibility and Equity in Course Design facilitated by Amanda Brockman. Resources from both of those events are forthcoming on the CDR. We also released a revised version of the page Assessing Student Needs in Your Online Course updated by Amanda Brockman and Emilie Hall and have additional new and updated pages scheduled to be released over the summer. Thank you to all of the members of this group for a year of collaboration and encouragement and we explored these timely topics together. 
If you want to be part of the online teaching group in the 2021-2022 academic year, you can get on our mailing list by filling out this form. For more information about the group or the CDR, please contact CFT Assistant Director Stacey Johnson at Stacey.m.johnson@vanderbilt.edu.

L to R:  Abena Boakyewa-Ansah (History), Amanda Brockman (Sociology), Leah Roberts (Human & Organizational Development), and Mohammad Meerzaei (Religion)
The CFT Thanks Our Graduate Teaching Fellows!
We want to thank our 2020-2021 Graduate Teaching Fellows for their leadership, commitment to teaching values, and completing their 12 months fellowship. As we faced an unprecedented year with new teaching challenges, our incredible Fellows created various resources and opportunities for the Vanderbilt teaching community, designed and facilitated workshops for graduate students, and delivered high-quality CiCT instructions. Abena, Amanda, Leah, and Mohammad, we are grateful for your efforts and ingenuity. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and best wishes with your future endeavors.

Vanderbilt University is committed to providing universal access to all of our events.
Please contact Juliet Traub at
cft@vanderbilt.edu or 615-322-7290 to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

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