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Commentary Category

Teaching, Difference, and Power—with Our Language

Sep. 12, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director I’ve been thinking about the role of language in the CFT’s theme of “Teaching, Difference, and Power.”  During the first semester of my first faculty position, fresh out of graduate school, I spoke the language of my dissertation. Beautiful (to me) multisyllabic terms, an elegant (to me) theoretical framework...

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Teaching Ferguson

Aug. 30, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director This year at the CFT, through our theme of “Teaching, Difference, and Power,” we turn to the complexities of the roles of difference and power in both what many of us teach and how we all teach. In an earlier post, I explored the notion of “educationally purposeful” ways...

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Grading Writing Assignments in Less than a Lifetime

Aug. 15, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director One of the greatest stresses experienced by new faculty (and not-so-new faculty) is the amount of time spent on effective teaching. Parkinson’s Law—the notion that a task expands to fill the time available—seems more true for teaching than many other responsibilities. During Wednesday’s Teaching at Vanderbilt orientation for new faculty,...

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What Can Faculty Do about Students’ Classroom-Based Anxieties? More Than You Think.

Aug. 4, 2014—by Nancy Chick (CFT Assistant Director) Last week, The Princeton Review released its annual list of “The Top 10 Colleges for ___,” and Vanderbilt made a big splash by ranking #1 with the Happiest College Students in the US.*  While this is fantastic news for the campus, and it’s interesting to speculate about what makes these...

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The Mindful PhD: Sitting Down & Staying Still

Jul. 27, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director The progressive breakdown of my computer and resulting residencies of IT guys have conspired to force me to read some of the books I have stacked on my desk.  Today, I read the copy of Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach (Intrator & Scribner, eds.,...

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Curricular Redesign with the CFT

Jul. 14, 2014—One characteristic of “the best college teachers,” according to Ken Bain (author of the book by this name and founder of the Vanderbilt CFT), is the ability to “reflect deeply on the nature of thinking within their fields“: They know what has to come first, and they can distinguish between foundational concepts and elaborations or illustrations of...

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The Mindful PhD: A Room of One’s Own

Jun. 27, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director I have a new favorite place on campus.  It may not look like much–small room with a recliner and a lamp, a desk with a computer and handbook, a tv screen with assorted DVDs–but it’s a little oasis tucked into a corner room at 2015 Terrace Place. More comfortable than...

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The Mindful PhD: Homing In

Jun. 20, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director My post-semester sabbatical from blogging lasted a bit longer than I’d anticipated. Nothing bad happened: I simply devoted 100% of my writing efforts to a few manuscripts  I wanted to get off of my desktop.  There are more–there are always more–but I finished the third yesterday, so I feel caught...

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‘Educationally Purposeful’ Thoughts about Race on Campus

Jun. 18, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director This week, Vanderbilt is hosting the fourth annual Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U). On the opening night, CFT Director Derek Bruff and I attended the plenary session, along with the 220 participants from as far away as the...

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The Mindful PhD: In Case of Emergency

May. 1, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director Before flying, we’re told to locate our nearest emergency exits.  If we’re sitting in the emergency row, we must verbally agree to the responsibility of working the  doors and helping our fellow passengers if necessary. Similarly, now that storm season has arrived in the South,* we’ve all prepared our “safe...

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