University Service by the Center for Teaching
by Derek Bruff, executive director
One aspect of the Center for Teaching’s work supporting Vanderbilt’s teaching mission that is sometimes hard to represent here on the website is the university service we do. To give the campus a little more sense of this kind of organizational development work, here’s an excerpt about our university service from our recently published 2021-2022 Year in Review.
Given their expertise in educational development, CFT staff are often invited to contribute to college, school, and university efforts around teaching and learning initiatives. This work doesn’t often fit into neat categories, but it is a significant way CFT staff support the teaching mission of the university. Following are four examples of this kind of university service.
- The College of Arts & Science launched a Learning Assistants program this year involving faculty teaching gateway courses across six departments. Learning Assistants (LAs) are undergraduates who serve as peer mentors in courses they have previously taken. Research on the Vanderbilt LA program has shown the program significantly increases students’ sense of belonging in individual courses and in STEM more broadly. CFT associate director Cynthia Brame has been instrumental in launching and sustaining the LA program by leading a learning community for faculty using LAs, contributing to the selection and training of new LAs, and working with faculty on assessment of the program.
- Vanderbilt’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is launching a new series of “critical conversation” workshops for faculty, staff, and students in fall 2022. Designing the curriculum for that series was a collaborative effort by EDI and CFT staff, notably CFT assistant director Joe Bandy. Drawing on his years of experience leading workshops on inclusive teaching and facilitating learning communities on teaching, power, and difference, Bandy advised on both the content and form of the new workshops. The new EDI workshops represent an important tool in fostering a more diverse and inclusive campus environment at the university.
- The Divinity School launched a new online Lifelong Learning program in fall 2021. The program was aimed at the school’s extensive and diverse alumni network, as well as the general public, as a way for participants to explore matters of faith and culture. Launching a new online program, even a non-degree program, involves a great deal of curriculum and course design, as well as the production of digital media, particularly video, for use in courses. CFT assistant director for instructional design Julaine Fowlin and CFT assistant director for digital media Rhett McDaniel provided consultation services to the Lifelong Learning program faculty, and the program made use of the CFT’s digital media studios.
- The CFT has a longstanding partnership with the Office of Immersion Resources (OIR) to support Immersion Vanderbilt. Starting in 2018, the CFT facilitated a design process leading to an articulation of learning outcomes for Immersion’s four pathways and consulted on formative and summative assessment practices aligned with those outcomes. This year, the CFT and OIR co-designed an Immersion 101 workshop for faculty and staff serving as Immersion mentors, and CFT staff joined a team of Academic Affairs staff at the American Association of Colleges & Universities’ High Impact Practices Institute to further integrate high impact practices into students’ residential college experience.