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Teaching Workshops

Workshops focus on practical, concrete strategies for common teaching tasks, challenges, and opportunities. These sessions draw on research-based best practices from the literature on teaching and learning and help participants consider ways to apply those best practices in their teaching.

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.

High-Impact Practice Workshop Series


Throughout this academic year, we will offer a series of workshops organized around various “high-impact practices” (HIPs) in teaching and learning as defined by extensive research by the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).  Using millions of data points collected via the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), HIPs are those teaching practices that have demonstrated significant educational benefit for students, especially those who are historically underserved and underrepresented in higher education.

These practices include:

  • capstone courses and projects
  • collaborative assignments and projects
  • common intellectual experiences
  • diversity/global learning
  • first-year seminars and experiences
  • internships
  • learning communities
  • service learning, community-based learning
  • undergraduate research
  • writing-intensive courses


Teaching through Service-Learning and Community Engagement (2 workshops)

Community engagement teaching methods, often discussed as “service learning,” are ones that combine a course’s learning goals and community service in ways that can enhance student growth and the common good. In the words of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse, it is “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities” (2011). When done well, these teaching methods have a positive impact on students’ critical thinking, research, problem-solving, intercultural, civic, and leadership abilities, along with greater personal efficacy and career development, all the while growing the capacity of community organizations and contributing to social change (Eyler et al., 2001). The CFT and the Office of Experiential Learning and Immersion will be co-hosting two workshops on service-learning and community engagement: 1) An Introduction to Service-Learning and Community Engagement, and 2) Developing Productive and Ethical SLCE Partnerships. Over the course of these two workshops, participants will be introduced to the history of community engagement pedagogy and the variety of practical forms it can take in one’s teaching (workshop 1), as well as ways to initiate, develop, and assess partnerships with community agencies and organizations (workshop 2), with case examples. All faculty, graduate students, and staff are welcome to attend. Please register here for workshop 1, “An Introduction to SLCE,” and register here for workshop 2, “Developing Productive and Ethical Partnerships.” While you need not attend both workshops, together they are intended to provide a thorough introduction to SLCE pedagogies, methods, and ethics to help you start or advance your own community engagement practice.

Facilitators: Joe Bandy (Center for Teaching and Department of Sociology) and Amy Johnson (Office.of Experiential Learning and Immersion)
Dates/Times: Introductory workshop, Feb 2nd, 12:00-1:30pm (Lunch provided)
Partnership workshop, Feb 9th, 12:00-1:30pm (Lunch provided)
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Fostering Meaningful Assessment

Embark on a transformative workshop to refine your assessment practices. Gain the ability to articulate assessment purposes, apply guidelines, and improve existing processes, focusing on identifying outcomes, measuring attainment, and utilizing data for improvement. Despite recent debates on assessment, it remains a meaningful faculty endeavor, driving improvements in teaching, learning, and program quality. Explore the pivotal role assessments play in measuring learning, providing improvement opportunities, and fostering academic integrity, and discover how meaningful assessments emphasize purpose, clear connections, support deeper thinking, timely results, and instructive feedback. By considering your course aims and objectives, this workshop will help you to create appropriate and meaningful assessment strategies that set clear expectations and offer real-time feedback for you and your students. Please register here to attend.

Facilitator: Brian DeLevie, Associate Director of the CFT and Cinema & Media Arts
Dates/Time: February 8th, 12:30-1:30 pm
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Leveraging Student Evaluations and Feedback to Enhance Teaching and Learning

At the end of every semester, students provide valuable feedback on courses, offering insights into their learning experiences and teaching effectiveness. While being assessed by students might feel unsettling, this workshop aims to empower you to utilize students’ feedback effectively. Join us for an engaging session that unlocks the potential of student input, enhancing teaching and amplifying student learning. This workshop will explore strategies that convert feedback into actionable insights, refine teaching approaches, and foster continuous improvement. Through interactive activities, participants will elevate their teaching prowess and cultivate an environment where student voices drive meaningful educational advancements. This workshop is open to all Vanderbilt faculty, graduate instructors, and staff. Please register here for a transformative journey toward impactful teaching and empowered learning environments.

Facilitator: Ransford Pinto, CFT Assistant Director and Senior Lecturer in LPO
Date/Time: Thursday, February 8th, 2:30-3:30 pm
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Ungrading: Alternative approaches to assessing students and assigning grades

Amidst the growing recognition that traditional approaches to assessing learning and assigning grades are imperfect methods for measuring and communicating student learning, more and more faculty are using alternative approaches to this critical aspect of teaching. We will survey alternative approaches including specifications grading and collaborative or reflective grading and examine the benefits and challenges of these methods. Please register here if you are interested.

Facilitator: Lily Claiborne, CFT Senior Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of the Practice in Earth & Environmental Sciences
Date/Time: Wednesday, February 21st, 2:30-3:45 pm
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Faculty Peer Assessment of Teaching 

Elevate your department’s teaching evaluation practices with our upcoming session on peer review, a crucial element for improvement and personnel decisions. Faculty members possess a unique perspective to evaluate aspects of their colleagues’ teaching beyond students’ expertise, such as field knowledge, course material relevance, rigor level, and contributions to course development. In this session, we explore ways peers can offer constructive feedback individually and in groups, enhancing their learning through practical solutions integrated into their courses. We delve into peer assessments and best practices for peer review and discuss assessments like curriculum and teaching material reviews, student artifacts examination, teaching portfolio assessments, and classroom observations. If you’re interested in attending this workshop, register here.

Facilitators: Brian DeLevie (Associate Director of the CFT and Cinema & Media Arts) and Lily Claiborne (CFT Senior Faculty Fellow and Asst. Prof. of the Practice, Earth & Environmental Sciences)
Dates/Time: Wednesday, February 28th, 12:00-1:00 pm
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Active Learning in Large Enrollment Classes

Many high-impact teaching practices are challenging in large enrollment classes, including active learning and formative assessment of that learning. We will examine best practices for encouraging student engagement, active learning strategies, and making visible the learning that’s happening in the classroom when teaching large numbers of students. Please register here.

Facilitator: Lily Claiborne, CFT Senior Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of the Practice in Earth & Environmental Sciences
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 6th, 2:30-3:45 pm
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Creating and Utilizing Rubrics

Feedback and grades are essential in guiding students toward success, and rubrics offer a streamlined approach to providing constructive feedback while transparently outlining grading criteria. Instructors keen on incorporating rubrics into their teaching methods are invited to participate in this workshop, where you’ll explore various rubric models, engage in hands-on activities to create a rubric aligned with course objectives, and understand how rubrics serve as assessment tools for faculty and learning tools for students. Discover how rubrics can help alleviate anxiety surrounding the grading process for both parties by laying out specific criteria and performance expectations for assignments, fostering focus and confidence in students’ work. While creating rubrics requires an initial time investment, the long-term benefits include reduced grading time and more transparent communication of assignment criteria. Please register here to not miss this opportunity to enhance your grading approach and contribute to a more productive learning experience.

Facilitator: Brian DeLevie, Associate Director of the CFT and Cinema & Media Arts
Dates/Time: Friday, March 22nd, 10:00-11:00am
Location: Virtually via Zoom

Applying the Concepts of Gamification in the Classroom

Unleash the power of gamification in higher education by joining our upcoming workshop, where we delve into the transformative impact of incorporating game elements into the learning process. Gamification, an educational approach using game elements, motivates students through storytelling, rewards, and digital badges, enhancing engagement. Explore strategies like storyboarding, avatars, and leaderboards to captivate students. Benefits include promoting critical skills, improving student performance, fostering collaboration and competition, and incentivizing independent learning. Learn to apply gamified activities in diverse educational contexts, from extra-credit awards to immersive schemes. This interactive workshop is an opportunity to understand key gamification concepts, explore strategies, define key performance indicators, and identify relevant approaches for your organization. Don’t miss the chance to playfully revolutionize your teaching methods and make learning a fun and rewarding quest. Join us in this interactive workshop to embrace the exciting fusion of gaming and education! Please register here.

Facilitators: Brian DeLevie (Associate Director of the CFT and Cinema & Media Arts) and Alexis Finet (Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Instruction of French and Director of the French Language Program)
Dates/Times: Thursday, March 28th, 12:00-2:00pm (Lunch provided)
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Cultivating Effective Writing in the Age of Generative AI

What do we mean by “good” writing? And what are our goals in training students to become more effective writers? These are not easy questions, and responses will vary within and across disciplines, but they are even more pressing now. As advancements in generative AI, as well as its accessibility, have enabled anyone to produce essays that can communicate information in a clear, logically cohesive, and articulate manner, it is all the more imperative for instructors to create assessments that illuminate the efficacy of writing not just as a communication device but as a space for knowledge making and creativity. With this goal in mind, this workshop invites participants from across the disciplines to explore and share strategies for structuring written assessments that center writing as a process, foster experimental thinking, and position students to better understand the objectives of effective writing. Please register here.

Facilitator: Pavneet Aulakh (CFT Senior Faculty Fellow and Senior Lecturer in English)
Date/Time: Friday, March 29th, 1:00-2:00 pm
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Improvisational Teaching: What Vanderbilt Instructors Might Learn from Dramatic Improvisers?

Research suggests that, as instructors gain teaching experience, they tend to spend less time planning in advance, instead developing a sophisticated ability to improvise in-the-moment responses to the unique flow of learning in their classroom (Borko & Livingston, 1989; Sawyer, 2011; Yinger, 1987). Relatedly, a growing line of scholarship has explored what university instructors might learn from dramatic improvisers — artists who collaborate to spontaneously create unscripted theater together —t to become more responsive, equitable, and effective teachers. In this workshop, co-facilitated by members of the instructional team from Vanderbilt’s innovative “Teaching and Improvisation” course, participants will engage in foundational improvisational activities — immediately applicable to teaching — to practice generating creative ideas, deep listening, building on one another’s contributions, and learning together through closely-attuned collaboration. Comfortable clothes and shoes are recommended for this highly interactive experience, through which participants will both experience a first-hand taste of improvisation (“improv”) while sharing personal reflections, concerns, questions, and possibilities for transformations in their teaching practice. No previous theatrical or improvisational experience is required or expected. All Vanderbilt faculty, postdocs, graduate students, instructors, and staff are warmly welcome. Please register here.

Facilitator: Laura Carter-Stone (Postdoctoral Fellow, CFT)
Date/Time: Wednesday, April 17th from 11:00 am-12:30 pm (updated time)
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Supporting First-Generation Students

Join our upcoming workshop addressing the unique challenges faced by first-generation Vanderbilt students and how faculty can create a more accessible and supportive classroom environment. This session aims to equip faculty with practical strategies to support first-generation college students, including understanding their profile, identifying challenges, and implementing specific classroom support strategies. Explore key takeaways from the workshop, such as recognizing the intersectionality and cultural wealth of first-gen students and reframing conversations about the value of college education. Discover strategies like a visual syllabus, transparent assignment design, and soliciting student contributions to foster an inclusive learning environment. Learn about a group noticing routine, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and ways to address non-financial concerns such as imposter syndrome and navigating workplace rules. Additionally, explore the importance of demystifying college for these students, ensuring they feel empowered to ask questions and seek help. By addressing these challenges and providing the necessary support, educators can contribute to the success and fulfillment of first-generation college students in their academic journey. Please register here to attend.

Facilitators: Brian DeLevie (Associate Director of the CFT and Cinema & Media Arts) Laura Carter-Stone (Postdoctoral Fellow, CFT)
Dates/Time: April 2nd, 12:30-1:30 pm (Lunch provided)
Location: Center for Teaching Classroom, 1114 19th Ave South, 3rd Floor

Brightspace Workshops

As you prepare your courses, keep in mind all of the Brightspace resources we offer here at the Center for Teaching.

You can find a listing of all our upcoming workshops by visiting the Brightspace and Instructional Technology Workshops page.

We would love to answer your Brightspace questions, talk about different educational technologies that might work for your courses, and even help with course design questions!

Click here to go directly to the Brightspace and Instructional Technology Workshop Calendar.