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Commentary

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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The Mindful PhD: On Another Planet

Apr. 25, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director Last year, Forbes declared university professor the Least Stressful Job of the Year (Adams).  The response was so strong that the writer issued a corrective Addendum, and the magazine published a variety of rebuttals explaining the stresses of this seemingly cushy job (c.f., Kroll, Willingham). In the wake of this...

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The Mindful PhD: It’s About Our Students

Apr. 18, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director Today is my last day of class, and I feel a little antsy, even a little edgy.  I already have a stack of materials to grade, and I’ll be getting another stack today, and then another during our final exam period.  I have deadlines related to other work activities.  And...

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The Mindful PhD: Looking into the Fire

Apr. 4, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director In preparation for a talk next week, I was sitting on my floor next to my bookshelves, surrounded by open volumes of literature. (This is the literary scholar’s version of a kid surrounded by unwrapped presents.) I got sidetracked as I revisited one of my favorite passages in one of...

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The Mindful PhD: Revisiting Boice

Mar. 21, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director I’ve been preparing a one-week summer workshop in humanities pedagogy for a few post-docs starting their positions this fall.  My partner in this development is one of our Graduate Teaching Fellows, Jessica Riviere, who just dotted her i’s and crossed her t’s for graduating (or “walking”) in May. The confluence of...

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The Mindful PhD: The Continual Unfolding of Our Work

Mar. 14, 2014—by Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director This week was an especially stressful time of the semester. Some of you are looking forward to spring break, but Vanderbilt’s was at the very beginning of March.  The week after break–or, as we often call it, “break”–is hard for instructors and students alike. We see the home stretch in...

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