Recently at the Teaching Center…

Christi Williams discusses ideas from Teach Students How to Learn.

On April 12th, the Teaching Center hosted its final lunch discussion of the 2017-18 school year. The luncheon, “Celebrating Effective Teaching: Applying Teaching and Learning Ideas in the Classroom”, examined interesting and innovative teaching ideas that faculty members explored over the last year.  Attendees heard from eight faculty members who implemented ideas from one of our recent Teaching Center BeATLe (Belmont Applied Teaching and Learning) group books. Panelists represented five different colleges and discussed five different BeATLe books. Panelists included Beth Ritter-Conn (Theology), Christi Williams (Physical Therapy), Phil McGovern (Accounting), Christie Kleinmann (Public Relations), Jennifer Thomas (Biology), Rachael Flynn-Hopper (Education), and Jamie Adam (Nursing).

You can find more information on Teaching Center book groups, including BeATLe groups, here. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Q & A With Campus Partners

The Q & A With Campus Partners series is designed to connect faculty with personnel and offices on campus in order to better serve Belmont’s students. This installment features Thandi Dinani from the Office of Study Abroad.

What is your title and how long have you been at Belmont?
I am the Director of Study Abroad, and I’ve been here 14 months.

What brought you to Belmont?
After completing my doctoral program focused on international engagement and working in university contexts that send significant numbers of students abroad, my passion for international engagement continued to grow. I enjoy creating opportunities for faculty and students to engage with international counterparts. As Belmont’s study abroad participation increased, I was intrigued by what was occurring at Belmont in such a short amount of time. After coming to campus and learning about Belmont’s creative faculty and interdisciplinary approach to study abroad, it became apparent that my passion and energy matched Belmont’s environment, so the decision to come to Belmont was pretty easy!

What do you do in your role as Director of the Office of Study Abroad?
Is there a word limit to this question?! I provide administrative and visionary support to the study abroad office – ensuring consistent academically rigorous study abroad programs for students. My days may consist of working with faculty to explore new programming or troubleshoot issues that arise with their programs. Or it may entail working with administration and campus partners to identify opportunities for future partnerships with institutions and affiliate programs. Ultimately, my role is to identify study abroad opportunities that best align with the academic goals of Belmont majors, then support faculty and students in utilizing these opportunities to enhance their departments.

How does your office serve Belmont’s students?
Our office serves students by advising students on unique opportunities for them to study abroad to complete courses and/or internships that fulfill major, minor, or general education requirements. Once accepted on a program, our office works with students to complete all necessary paperwork to travel and study abroad successfully.

In what ways do (or can) faculty partner with your office?
Faculty can partner with our office through designing a faculty led program. They can also partner with us to identify strong programs and ideal terms for their students to study abroad. Lastly, they can partner with us to promote identified programs to students.

What would you like faculty to know about the Office of Study Abroad?
The Office of Study Abroad has opened the next call for Proposals for 2019 study abroad programs. Faculty who are interested in designing a faculty-led program for students for Spring Break, Maymester, or Summer 2019 are encouraged to connect with colleagues to design programs and submit proposals at: 

Proposals are due by May 15. If faculty need assistance in building a program, they can contact our office.

An Invitation to Present at the May 2018 Teaching Center Workshop

Last week you should have received an email inviting you to join us for our May 8, 2018 Teaching Center workshop sessions highlighting Belmont faculty Great Ideas for Teaching (G.I.F.T.) and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) work.  You will receive additional information regarding the opportunity to register for these sessions and another May workshop session in an email coming around the middle of April.

For now we invite your G.I.F.T. and SoTL proposals:

Great Ideas for Teaching (G.I.F.T.) —

propose a 10-minute roundtable informal presentation to be included in the Faculty G.I.F.T. session on Tuesday, May 8 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.  The proposal should be associated with a classroom-tested activity, including activities for online or hybrid courses, to be shared with novice and veteran Belmont faculty members.  A proposal may include a previously given or planned presentation (poster or otherwise), a recently published, upcoming or submitted manuscript idea.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) —

propose a 15-minute presentation to be included in the Faculty SoTL session on Tuesday, May 8 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.  Co-presenters are welcome, if appropriate for your proposal.  The proposal can be associated with any of your scholarly work that is connected to SoTL, including a previously given or planned presentation (poster or otherwise), a recently published, upcoming or submitted manuscript, or a budding idea that you hope to develop into a SoTL project.   SoTL work at all stages in the research process and communication levels are welcome.

Please Note:  Completed manuscripts/papers are neither required nor expected for either session.

Please complete and submit the appropriate proposal form by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 16.  Send the completed proposal to In addition to the G.I.F.T. and SoTL proposal forms, an example proposal of each was provided as an attachment in the email sent out last week.  A handout offering a general explanation of SoTL was also attached in case that is helpful for your understanding of SoTL.  Proposals will be reviewed by Teaching Center Advisory Board (TCAB) members.  Faculty who submit proposals will be informed whether their proposal is accepted for presentation by Friday, April 27. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Lunch Discussion Moved

The final Teaching Center lunch discussion of the spring semester will now take place on Thursday, April 12 from 11:30am – 1:00pm in the Frist Lecture Hall (4th floor of Inman). Please see the description of the lunch discussion below, and be on the lookout for an email invitation from the Teaching Center.

Celebrating Effective Teaching:
Applying Teaching and Learning Ideas in the Classroom

For our final lunch discussion of 2017-2018, we will celebrate and share some interesting and innovative teaching ideas that faculty members explored this year. In particular, we will hear from faculty members who implemented ideas from one of our recent Teaching Center BeATLe (Belmont Applied Teaching and Learning) group books. We will also include time for all participants to share ideas as part of the lunch conversation. In that regard, have you made an adjustment to a course that has reaped significant positive results? Or you have implemented ideas from Saundra McGuire, Christy Price, Ken Bain, or a Belmont colleague to good effect? We hope you join us for a lively, engaging, and fun interaction around the tables and in the overall group.

Resource of the Month

This month’s resource, Effects of Classroom Technology Policies on Students’ Perceptions of Instructors: What is Your Syllabus Saying About You?, is found in College Teaching. According to its website, the journal “provides an interdisciplinary academic forum on issues in teaching and learning at the undergraduate or graduate level.” The article, written by Jeffrey R. Stowell, William E. Addison, and Samuel L. Clay, examines how instructor technology policies found in syllabi affect students’ perceptions of instructors.

The purpose of the Resource of the Month is twofold:
1) To encourage the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) by providing examples of high-quality research.
2) To provide faculty with innovative ideas that promote effective pedagogy.

Faculty Reflections

Becoming a BANJO Writer
By Anthony Blash (Pharmacy) and Beverly Schneller (English)

In the summer of 2017, Anthony Blash invited a small group of colleagues from across campus to collaborate on an article on the mid-semester peer review of teaching that the Teaching Center coordinates each semester. He had a positive experience with his faculty peer reviewer, Julie Hunt, and he wanted to share what he learned with others.  He reached out to Beverly Schneller, Jonathan Thorndike, and Natalie Michaels.  Together, the team represented two graduate programs and three undergraduate programs. Anthony, Julie, and Natalie come from disciplines where collaborative writing is common and all had engaged in the peer review process as either a reviewer or a participant.  Beverly, though she had not participated in the review process, brought her experience in academic systems and review processes from an institutional perspective. Jonathan, as program director of Honors, conducts peer reviews of the Honors faculty. For the team, collaborating on a writing project allowed us to engage with different perspectives, interpretations, and articulation of the peer review of teaching.

We met weekly across the summer, beginning with brainstorming based on Anthony’s peer review.  From our discovery sessions, we identified a few possible themes or theses and then we agreed to write a section in our area of expertise.  Anthony recounted his peer review as a participant, Julie as his reviewer, Natalie as both a reviewer and a participant, Jonathan as one who used a complimentary process, while Beverly developed the initial literature review. We all agreed on the value of telling the story of the mid-semester review embedded as part of peer review. We quickly decided we wanted to approach it as a gem in the peer review process which needed more promotion among the faculty.

The meetings were fun and the topics were wide ranging.  A couple of meetings in we became the BANJO writing group (an acronym made of our first initials). The more we discussed the topics and refined our thinking, the more we uncovered about our passions for the topic and our earnest desire to invite more faculty to participate in the mid-semester peer review.  While at first we were all on separate tasks, within a few weeks we were in sync, starting to finish each other’s sentences! Significantly, when we met to edit the article, we concentrated on tone and word choice more than clarity or content, as we wanted to represent the personal as well as the professional merits of the peer review process to our readers.

The audience we had in mind was our peers, and those who struggle with finding meaning in required student evaluations and departmental peer reviews. We decided to submit to the Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, because Anthony’s story repeatedly emerged as the hook, giving the emotional connection with readers. We submitted the finished product in November, and after an R and R in January, we are waiting to hear if we made it. We intend to continue generating new research on these topics since our diverse backgrounds and experience converged so harmoniously.

Editor’s Note: For more information on Teaching Center formative reviews and/or for help organizing a writing group, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Recently at the Teaching Center…

February Lunch Discussions

Panelists (left to right): Mary Claire Dismukes, Jeremy Fyke, Ryan Fox, Lori LeBleu, Jeff Overby, Catherine Graham, and Angela Clauson

Embedding Career Readiness in the Classroom
Belmont University aspires to be a premier teaching university, bringing together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service.  We know that 94% of Belmont’s graduates are employed or pursing graduate school within six months of employment—but are they truly prepared?  On February 15th, the Teaching Center partnered with the office of Career and Professional Development to host a lunch discussion about how employers rate our graduates—and how that differs from their self-perception. Attendees engaged in dialogue with colleagues about strategies for developing students’ collaboration, communication, creativity, problem solving, professionalism, global fluency and leadership skills in the classroom, both in person and virtual.  Panelists included: Angela Clauson, Pharmacy; Jeremy Fyke, Communication Studies; Ryan Fox, Mathematics Education; Jeff Overby, International Business; Catherine Graham, Honors; Adrianne Archie, Student Affairs; Lori LeBleu and Chris Agans, Massey College of Business Career Development Center.

Panelists (left to right): Michelle Corvette, Judy Williams, Liz Usman, Elena Espiritu, Marnie Vanden Noven, and Natalie Michaels

Faculty Peer Review Effective Practices
Belmont faculty determined a few years ago that part of our continuing professional development associated with teaching would include annual peer feedback through review and/or observation. But what does effective peer review and observation look like?  Which methods are most successfully used by our Belmont colleagues? In addition to teaching improvement, what are other benefits of the peer review process? On February 26th, the Teaching Center partnered with the Faculty Senate Continuous Improvement of Teaching Committee (CITC) for a panel discussion highlighting the differences and possibilities of peer review across our campus.  Faculty panelists include Liz Usman (Law and CITC Chair), Natalie Michaels (Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, CHS), Michelle Corvette (Art, CVPA), Judy Williams (Faculty Librarian, Bunch Library), Marnie Vanden Noven (Sport Science, CLASS), and Elena Espiritu (Occupational Therapy, CHS).

Resource of the Month

February’s resource*, Encouraging Participation in Face-to-Face Lectures: The Index Card Technique, is found in Communication Teacher. The article, written by Laura Beth Daws, explains a strategy to increase students’ verbal discussion and participation in the classroom. According to its website, the journal, which is a peer-reviewed publication of the National Communication Association, publishes original scholarship that considers the practice and assessment of the teaching of communication across K-2, university/college, and other educational contexts.”

The purpose of the Resource of the Month is twofold:
1) To encourage the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) by providing examples of high-quality research.
2) To provide faculty with innovative ideas that promote effective pedagogy.

* Editor’s note: I chose this month’s resource not only because it illuminates a great teaching idea,  but also because I wanted to highlight discipline-specific SoTL opportunities. I picked a journal from my discipline (Communication Studies), and I would encourage you to look for SoTL publications in your disciplines, as well.

First Year Faculty Thoughts

Heather Finch, Ph.D.

Faculty Fellow, Department of English

B.S., English, Tuskegee University
M.A., English, Auburn University
Ph.D., English, Auburn University

When I stepped into the college classroom as an instructor of record for the first time over 10 years ago, I could have never anticipated the needs this career path would meet for me as I grow as a professional and person. It’s that transformative nature of the classroom that will not let me turn away from it. Even as I worked in positions outside of the classroom, I eagerly said yes when asked if I had time to teach a class or two. The classroom transforms me every time by presenting me with the honor of learning with students who teach me more about the communities we’re currently building in not only our nation but the world. When presented with the opportunity to pursue teaching full time last year, I decided to make a change.

This change lead me to Belmont where my faculty fellowship presents me with many opportunities to grow as an instructor, scholar, and academic professional. I have worked with my faculty mentor to increase my preparedness for tenure-track, encountered welcoming colleagues willing to share their experiences, worked with thoughtful, creative students, and taken advantage of sessions and conversations that have made me a better teacher. My experience so far has shown me Belmont understands the support it takes to help faculty become better at every step in their careers. Transitions can be critical, and I’m grateful to have Belmont be a part of my transition to full-time faculty work and Nashville.


The First Year Faculty Thoughts series is a way for the Belmont University community to get to know new faculty members as they reflect on their journeys to Belmont.

Recently at the Teaching Center…

The Elephant in the Classroom: Addressing Sensitive Topics with Skill and Courage

Julie Hunt and Marnie Vanden Noven present at the lunch discussion.

For many faculty, leading classroom discussions on sensitive topics is a persistent challenge. Topics like politics, religion, race and ethnicity, sexuality, and healthcare can come up in courses in a multitude of programs and disciplines. How faculty navigate these discussions can greatly impact the classroom environment and students’ learning. Thus, the Teaching Center hosted a lunch discussion on January 26th titled, “The Elephant in the Classroom: Addressing Sensitive Topics with Skill and Courage.” Attendees heard from a panel of faculty, in a variety of disciplines, who have experience and expertise engaging in difficult conversations in their classrooms. The panel included Tracey Carter (Law), David Dark (Religion), Julie Hunt (Social Work), Vaughn May (Political Science), and Marnie Vanden Noven (Sport Science).