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Teaching-as-Research Fellows Program

Please note: This program ended during the 2011-12 academic year. The CFT now offers the SoTL Scholars Program.

As part of the CIRTL Network activities at Vanderbilt, the CFT co-sponsors the Teaching-as-Research (TAR) Fellows program for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields at Vanderbilt. CIRTL defines TAR as follows:

“Teaching-as-Research involves the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of students and teachers.”

Each fall, up to eight TAR Fellows are selected to conduct projects exploring aspects of undergraduate education in their disciplines. Each Fellow works with a faculty mentor, and each project typically focuses on an undergraduate course taught by that mentor. See the projects listed below to get a sense of possible topics for these projects.

The Fellows are provided with an orientation to TAR and participate in an ongoing working group that meets weekly during the fall semester and is facilitated by CFT staff. In the working group they receive feedback and support as they design and implement their projects. Fellows also receive “topping up” awards of $3000 each, currently funded through the CIRTL Network.

The goals of the program are as follows:

  • To provide faculty with resources for designing and assessing curricular innovations,
  • To provide graduate students and other future faculty members with training and development in the design and assessment of teaching and learning activities, and
  • To benefit the learning of undergraduate students through the development and assessment of curricular innovations.

Each January the TAR Fellows share their projects with the campus in a poster session hosted by CIRTL-at-Vanderbilt. The poster session typically coincides with a plenary talk given by an outside speaker on some aspect of STEM education. Past speakers include Karl Smith, professor of engineering education at Purdue University, Richard Cyr, professor of biology at Penn State University, and Robert Mathieu, professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and principal investigator for the CIRTL Network. See this summary of Karl Smith’s 2011 talk.

2011 Call for Proposals

I. General

CIRTL is the Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning.  It is a network of institutions, led by the University of Wisconsin, with the aim of increasing the preparation of future faculty in teaching.  Vanderbilt is one of the CIRTL partners.

II. Awards

The VU CIRTL group wishes to offer topping-up awards of $3,000 each for semester-long commitments of teaching assistants, post doctoral fellows or graduate students to engage in a “Teaching as Research” (TAR) project for Fall 2011.  A maximum of 5 awards is available. This can be received as additional stipend for US citizens and permanent residents.  It must replace other support for international students.

III. Teaching as Research

CIRTL defines TAR as follows: “Teaching-as-Research involves the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of students and teachers.” Examples may be found further down on this page. Other examples are provided on the VaNTH website.

The goals of our program are as follows:

  • to provide faculty with resources for designing and assessing curricular innovations,
  • to provide graduate students and other future faculty members with training and development in the design and assessment of teaching and learning activities, and
  • to benefit the learning of undergraduate students through the development and assessment of curricular innovations.

IV. Proposal Format

Directors of graduate study and faculty instructors in STEM disciplines are invited to propose support for Fall 2011.  Please send a proposal to Thomas R. Harris at Thomas.r.harris@vanderbilt.edu or Box 1724 Station B, Vanderbilt University by June 1, 2011. The proposal format is as follows:

  1. Name of teaching assistant or other graduate student for whom support is sought.
  2. Department Name
  3. Faculty mentor (with signature)
  4. Director of Graduate Studies (with signature)
  5. Course that project will benefit.
  6. Brief description of project (no more than one page).  This should emphasize the instructional innovations that will be developed and the assessment of effectiveness.

Students in STEM fields pursuing the Center for Teaching’s Teaching Certificate program are encouraged to apply for this support.  TAR Fellows can receive Teaching Certificate credit for their CIRTL-sponsored projects.  Contact the CFT for more information.

All selected applicants must make every effort to do the following:

  1. Must attend a teaching workshop at the beginning of the fall semester. The workshop will include an orientation to teaching-as-research.
  2. Should sign up for one of the following on-line CIRTL courses: The College Classroom, taught by Robin Greenler, University of Wisconsin-Madison, or Inquiry-based and Problem-Based Learning in the College Classroom, taught by Bruce Herbert, Texas A&M University. For more information, see CIRTL’s online course page. Contact Jean Alley (jean.alley@vanderbilt.edu) for information regarding these courses and procedures for registration.
  3. Meet weekly during the fall semester in a working group facilitated by Center for Teaching staff.   The working group will provide fellows with feedback and support as they design and implement their projects.
  4. Submit to Thomas R. Harris a 2 page report by January 15, 2012 of the results of this project and present a poster of their results during a poster session in January 2012. (See example posters below.)

2011-12 Cohort

Faculty mentors are listed in italics. Click on the project titles for associated materials.

2010-11 Cohort

Faculty mentors are listed in italics. Click on the project titles for associated posters. Posters for projects without IRB approval are available only to those affiliated with Vanderbilt.

2009-10 Cohort

Faculty mentors are listed in italics. Click on the project titles for associated posters. Posters for projects without IRB approval are available only to those affiliated with Vanderbilt. Conference presentations and publications related to projects are listed below those projects.

2008-09 Cohort

Faculty mentors are listed in italics. Click on the project titles for associated posters. Posters for projects without IRB approval are available only to those affiliated with Vanderbilt. Conference presentations and publications related to projects are listed below those projects.

Detailed Program Information

Below are the slides from a March 2011 presentation on the TAR Fellows program given by CFT assistant director Derek Bruff and TAR Fellow alumna Lily Claiborne at the AAC&U / Project Kaleidoscope conference “Engaged STEM Learning: From Promising to Pervasive Practices.”

See also the “ingredients” handout referenced in the slides.







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