December 2021
Sign up to receive our future emails.
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 positions available for graduate students for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Graduate Teaching Fellow
GTFs lead sections of the Certificate in College (CiCT) 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 Teaching Assistants (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 2022.
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
Applications for all three types of positions are due Friday, February 11, 2022.
Learn more about each of these positions and apply online by visiting the CFT's employment opportunities page.
New Additions to the
Course Design Resources Site!

Branching scenarios are much like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. In a branching scenario, learners are taken through a scenario where they must make decisions based on the events that are presented. In the newest addition to the CDR (Online Course Development Resources) site, Carrie Sennet and Diana Vasquez (Vanderbilt School of Nursing) teach us how to design, build, and share these interactive scenarios in a guide called Branching Out with Interactive Scenarios.
Newly Updated Teaching Guide:
Personal Devices in the Classroom

The CFT first published a guide on considering how to work with wireless devices in the classroom in 2010.
Given the rapidly changing digital landscape since then, this guide has been updated to consider how personal electronic devices (especially laptops) can impact learning in the classroom, and how faculty members may design policies and positions regarding their usage.  
Learn more and find a link to the updated guide in this blog post.
Highlights from the Center for Teaching 35th Anniversary Panel
In honor of the Center for Teaching’s 35th anniversary, the CFT hosted a special anniversary panel on October 29, 2021, featuring staff and graduate student alumni of the CFT. The panelists discussed a series of questions on teaching and learning in higher education and the field of educational development. 
The panel’s moderator was Allison Pingree, senior instructional coach at the Teaching & Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former Vanderbilt Center for Teaching director (1998 to 2011). Allison framed the conversation around honoring the past, engaging in the present, and envisioning the future. 
Alumni panelists:
  • Shederick McClendon, higher education consultant and senior partner at Sphinx Global Solutions and a former CFT master teaching fellow (2001-2002)
  • Brielle Harbin, assistant professor of political science at the United States Naval Academy and a former CFT graduate teaching fellow (2014-2016)
  • Katie Headrick Taylor, associate professor of learning sciences and human development at the University of Washington and a former CFT graduate teaching fellow (2012-2013)
  • Peter Felten, assistant provost for teaching and learning and executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning and professor of history at Elon University, and previous assistant and associate director at the Vanderbilt CFT (1999-2005)
Read highlights from the conversation and watch a video of the panel discussion.
Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Michelle Marcus
Each year, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Michelle Marcus, Economics, talks about some of the lessons she has gained from the Fellowship.
The Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program has been an invaluable opportunity to reflect on my own teaching practices and to enhance my teaching efficiency and skills. Through teaching seminars, peer-groups, individual consultations with CFT members, classroom visits, and my own reflections on teaching, I’ve come to a greater appreciation of the diverse needs of my students and the ways in which I can improve accessibility to learning in my classroom. By creating clear class goals and re-designing course content and assignments towards achieving those learning goals, I can provide students with a clearer connection between class material and learning objectives.
Restructuring course content, thinking about student learning needs, and providing additional assignments designed to scaffold up student learning and build upon previous knowledge have been key components to the re-design of my course. As an example, my course includes a small group final project which is a culmination of the skills they’ve learned throughout the course and gives students an opportunity to apply those skills to a real-world research topic related to their own interests.To make this assessment and the goals of the project clearer, I’ve worked with the students to create a rubric for the final project that takes into account their own thoughts about how the project and teamwork should be assessed. To help the groups scaffold up towards the final presentation, I’ve introduced check-in points for different required elements of the project, such as their question of interest, background research, and their research design. This provides an additional opportunity for me to give feedback and guidance on their project and content prior to the presentation.
The JFTF program provides a great opportunity to leverage the teaching expertise of our excellent colleagues across campus and at the Center for Teaching. Through conversations with these colleagues, I have been inspired to incorporate new technology and teaching methods into my course, which has already improved student learning. In future semesters, I plan to continue these improvements in course design by flipping my classroom, which will provide more time for in class discussion, group-learning, and allowing students to make connections on their own between course material and important real-world issues. I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in the JFTF program this year and hope that other junior faculty members will take advantage of this program and all the resourcesavailable through Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching.
CFT Partners with Divinity School
to Launch Inaugural Round of
Lifelong Learning Courses

Vanderbilt Divinity School has had a rich legacy of continuing education since the 1990s. Building on this legacy, in 2020,  the Lifelong Learning Committee proposed a comprehensive Lifelong Learning curriculum to meet the needs of the diverse audiences that VDS is uniquely positioned to serve. VDS Lifelong Learning has its roots in Vanderbilt’s commitments to collaborate with the community. It aims to cultivate and nurture non-traditional students to become more thoughtful leaders, better understand the changing contexts in which they live, help them lead others more effectively, and build upon networks.

In 2020, the Center for Teaching also strengthened online instructional design expertise with the strategic hire of Julaine Fowlin, assistant director for instructional design.  The timing of both initiatives led to a partnership with VDS and CFT to work at the curricular level for lifelong learning.

To capture the outcomes and lessons learned, Julaine hosted a panel discussion in the new Digital Media Lab with some VDS Lifelong learning committee members.
  • Laura M. Cheifetz, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Vocation, and Stewardship
  • Justine Chen, Director of Communications
  • Amy Steele, Assistant Dean of Students Affairs and Community Life,  and Chair,  of the VDS Lifelong Learning Committee
Read the blog post and watch the video segments
Teach Coding?
Learn About a tool for integrating enhanced 
Jupyter Notebooks into Your Teaching
As part of a Course Improvement Grant project, associate professor of biomedical engineering Will Grissom been using Pathbird, a tool that runs enhanced Jupyter notebooks (in Python, Julia, or R). It allows students to navigate to their site with no additional setup, and the instructor can interleave autograders, multiple choice questions, and short answer questions with coding and processing exercises. Will says that it has made his teaching much smoother and better integrated this semester and that he’s used it for exercises during lecture, homeworks, and take home tests. Read more here.
On Wednesday, December 8, at 11 a.m., Travis DePrato, founder of the company, will give a demo via Zoom. If you’re interested in attending, email Will Grissom ( or Cynthia Brame ( for the zoom link. 
Share this newsletter
Follow The CFT Online
facebook logotwitter logoreflectreflect
Vanderbilt University is committed to providing universal access to all of our events.
Please contact Juliet Traub at or 615-322-7290 to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.

©2021 Vanderbilt University · The Center for Teaching 
1114 19th Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37212
Phone: 615-322-7290 Fax: 615-343-8111
Sign up to receive our future emails.
powered by emma
Subscribe to our email list.