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Graduate Student Offerings

The Center for Teaching (CFT) offers a variety of programs and services to meet the needs of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows entering the teaching ranks, as well as for those looking ahead to future faculty teaching roles. We serve as a venue for exploration and discovery in a confidential, collegial setting.

See this Prezi for a brief introduction to CFT offerings for graduate students as of August 2014. Click on the forward button to step through the Prezi, and click on any links you see for more information.



Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO)

TAO, held in August each year, prepares graduate students to assume their teaching duties with confidence by engaging them in interactive sessions about teaching methods and university policies and resources.  Students participate in small groups to learn about TA issues specific to their disciplines and departments.

Workshops & Events

Throughout the school year, the Center organizes workshops for graduate students facilitated by CFT senior staff and Graduate Teaching Fellows.  Graduate students are welcome to attend these workshops regardless of their participation in other CFT activities.

  • Teaching Workshops feature practical, applied sessions on basic teaching practices in a variety of disciplines.
  • Conversations on Teaching are occasional, informal, and topical.  Sessions typically begin with a panel offering brief remarks, followed by open discussion with workshop participants.
  • GradSTEP is a Saturday conference held in January each year that provides participants with a choice of a variety of workshops and other professional development opportunities.

Consultation Services

The Center for Teaching provides a wide range of confidential consultation services to individuals for developmental purposes.  Our Graduate Teaching Fellows are trained specifically to work with fellow graduate students as they develop their teaching philosophies and skills. Below are a few popular services.

  • Small Group Analysis (SGA) – A CFT consultant meets with students in a class to collect their thoughts about the class, and then meets with the graduate student instructor or TA to discuss student responses.  SGAs can provide valuable insight into what students think is working well in the classroom and suggestions for improvement.
  • Teaching Observation – A CFT consultant can visit teaching settings at Vanderbilt to observe instructors and TAs. After the visit, the consultant discusses with the instructor or TA what she or he has observed; together, they develop strategies for further experimentation and refinement, and identify areas for ongoing reflection.
  • Video Consultation – Instructors and TAs can arrange for the CFT to videotape almost any teaching session, and then view the video with a CFT consultant.  This kind of analysis offers instructors the chance to observe their practice through a different “lens” than when involved in the moment-to-moment teaching process.

CFT consultants are also available to help make sense of and learn from course evaluations, consult on the design of courses and syllabi, and provide feedback on teaching statements and teaching portfolios.


Certificate in College Teaching

The purpose of the Certificate in College Teaching is to assist graduate students and post doctoral fellows who wish to gain a clearer, deeper, more active approach to teaching and learning in higher education. The certificate focuses on the research on how people learn and best teaching practices, and supports the university’s pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning. The certificate is ideal for graduate students whose goals are to become more effective educators and who want to prepare for future careers in higher education teaching.

SoTL Scholars Program

The purpose of the SoTL Scholars Program is to help graduate students cultivate a scholarly, evidence-based approach to their students’ learning and their own teaching.  The scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) is a way of treating teaching as a scholarly activity by posing questions about student learning and its relationship to the ways in which they are taught.  SoTL practitioners collect and analyze evidence of their students’ learning to understand what happens in the classroom more fully and to facilitate learning more effectively.  Program participants will explore how to adopt this perspective, beginning to bridge the gap between their research and their teaching identities by asking and answering meaningful questions about teaching and learning in ways that align with their disciplinary research practices.

Working Groups & Seminars

Working groups bring together faculty, staff, and students with common teaching interests.  We currently host working groups and seminars on contemplative pedagogy, service learning, and teaching gender and sexuality.  We are open to new groups, as well.

Teaching in the US Classroom

The International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) office and the Center for Teaching are sponsoring an 8-week seminar entitled “Teaching in the U.S. Classroom.”  This seminar is designed specifically for international Teaching Assistants (ITAs) and will be most helpful to those who are new to teaching in the United States. The course will focus on understanding and navigating the educational culture at Vanderbilt, and will also include attention to specific teaching skills.


Online Resources

The CFT website provides a guide on being a TA featuring questions TAs might ask their supervisors and advice for TAs from undergraduates.  In addition, the website features a series of “teaching guides” that provide practical and theoretical advice on a variety of teaching topics and a blog showcasing CFT happenings and resources as well as perspectives on teaching from around the university.

Employment Opportunities

Position announcements for these positions are usually posted in January with application deadlines in early March.

Graduate Teaching Fellows
GTFs facilitate many of the offerings for graduate students described here.  These academic-year positions provide an exceptional development opportunity for graduate students interested in teaching.

Teaching Affiliates
Teaching Affiliates develop and facilitate sessions at TA Orientation and conduct small projects during fall semesters designed to impact graduate student teaching at Vanderbilt.  The position involves about 80 hours of work, mostly in August each year.  All Teaching Affiliates and GTFs participate in a two-week training program.