Skip to main content

Learning Communities

The CFT hosts a number of learning communities, intended for members of Vanderbilt’s teaching community interested in meeting over time to develop deeper understandings and richer practices around particular teaching and learning topics. See below for information on the CFT’s 2020-21 learning communities.

Promoting Persistence in STEM Learning

STEM disciplines have long been concerned with disparities between underrepresented and well-represented student groups and the associated “pipeline” problem, where underrepresented students are more likely to switch away from STEM majors. The book Talking about Leaving Revisited, published in December 2019, discusses findings from a five-year study that explores the extent, nature, and contributory causes of field-switching both from and among STEM majors, and what enables persistence to graduation.  This learning community will use Talking about Leaving Revisited to promote discussion of changes we will make to reduce disparities in our courses and our programs. We’ll meet monthly to discuss excerpts from the book as well as possible individual and programmatic responses. If you register below, you’ll receive an email with information about accessing the book and to solicit input about meeting times by mid-September.



Teaching, Difference, and Power: Teaching and Race

Teaching, Difference, and Power

In the midst of racist and anti-immigrant violence in the United States, and in response to protest movements calling for racial justice, many Vanderbilt instructors and staff have expressed a commitment to address these concerns in their teaching.  As part of that commitment, they have wished to understand critical approaches to teaching about race and racial justice and to develop an ever more inclusive and just campus for students of all backgrounds. Towards this end, the Center for Teaching is hosting a learning community throughout 2020-21 that will address a variety of related topics, including the scholarship on teaching race and racial justice, the experiences of faculty and students of color at Vanderbilt, transforming conflicts around race into productive dialogue, the benefits of culturally appropriate pedagogy, reducing racial and other performance gaps for students across the disciplines, among other subjects. The meetings have yet to be scheduled, but should take place monthly. If you have an interest, please register at this link and we will keep you informed about the learning community as it is finalized.

If you are interested in this series of events, please contact

Next meeting: November 6th, 2:00-3:30pm, at this Zoom link

As part of the 2020-21 learning community on Teaching and Race, the Center for Teaching is hosting a meeting on the subject of resolving classroom conflicts about race.  Discussions about race can be among the most challenging students can have in the classroom due to the issue’s intellectual complexities, political implications, and emotional dimensions, all of which can lead to difficult conversations and, at times, conflicts.  While conflict is necessary and productive for learning, it can also threaten to spiral into hostilities and incivilities that can disrupt learning and potentially do harm to students.  This conversation will be focus on how to manage conflict about race in the classroom and transform it, when possible, into moments of critical learning and growth.

Sharing their insights will be special guests, Jermaine Soto (Director of Faculty Development, Office of the Provost), Franklin Ellis, Jr (Director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence), and Graham Reside (Executive Director of the Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership for the Professions, and Assistant Professor of Divinity).

Topics will likely vary but should include microaggressions, uncomfortable conversations, privileged identity exploration (PIE), intergroup dialogue, non-violent communication, and methods of fostering faculty presence. We hope you will join in the conversation.


Online Teaching

This faculty learning community is for Vanderbilt faculty, staff, or grad students who want to dig deeper into online and hybrid course design principles in order to create excellent socially-distanced courses. In our working group, we will explore principles of effective online teaching as described in research literature, expert accounts, and personal perspectives. As a group, we will work together to develop public-facing web pages for the Online Course Development Resources (CDR) site to support our own professional development and provide resources that can benefit other Vanderbilt instructors’ digital pedagogy.

Meetings will take place monthly beginning in September. You can register for this group using this form.


Spring Journal Club: Investigating Student Learning

In this journal club we will explore different approaches that college instructors can use to investigate how and what our students are learning. We will discuss research articles that illustrate how a range of methods can be used to understand our teaching and our students’ learning, considering benefits and limitations of the methods for answering our questions. We’ll discuss opportunities for presenting and publishing our own investigations, considering the norms and practices common to both the SOTL (Scholarship of teaching and learning) and DBER (discipline-based education research) communities. By the end of the year, participants will identify a research question they are interested in pursuing in their own teaching context and an approach they may use to answer that question.

We plan to meet twice monthly. If you register at this link (REGISTER HERE) by December 31, you’ll receive an email in early January to solicit input about meeting times. Open to faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students at Vanderbilt.