Resource of the Month

This month’s resource highlights the Blackboard Support site created by Geoff Price, Director of Instructional Technology, and Chris Rains, Instructional Technology Specialist at Belmont. Blackboard Support offers Belmont faculty a comprehensive resource on “all things Blackboard,” from short instructional videos to self-paced courses. Faculty can access this resource in Blackboard by choosing “Organizations” from the left-side menu. Instructional Technology staff have created a video overview of this resource and how to access it in Blackboard.


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.

First-Year Faculty Spotlight

Sara Wigal, M.A.

Assistant Professor and Director of Publishing


What is your position here at Belmont?

I am an Assistant Professor in the newly formed Cinema, Television, and Media department (formerly MDS and MOT) at Curb College, and the Director of Publishing. Our BA/BS in literary Publishing here at Belmont make up a really special program, one of only two undergraduate programs of study in the country within this field. A big part of what I am doing now is taking this fairly young program and revising it to adhere to new college standards. For many that might seem like a hindrance, but I love big picture thinking, so it’s been a fun opportunity for me to strategize how to support learning for my students for the long term.


What brought you to Belmont?

I was asked to guest lecture to a Publishing class in Spring ’18 by Richard Sowienski, my mentor and predecessor. We’d been connected through some coworkers who had studied with him as undergraduates. I was then hired as an adjunct instructor and followed that path toward becoming a full-time faculty member.


What do you enjoy most about Belmont and your work?

It’s hard to pick just one thing. I think everyone at Belmont really loves each other—the faculty, staff, and students all have such a great rapport, and joining this community has felt wonderful. I feel free here to creatively problem solve some of the challenges facing the Publishing program and tackle that with a lot of support. It’s fun for me to design new courses, think about sequencing, and just generally work to grow knowledge of this program in the Publishing community at large, with families across the country, and even here on campus. I’m passionate about growing leaders for the industry and helping students pivot their love of reading and writing into a practical skill set for developing creative talent related to books and magazines, all in a critical and ethical manner.


When you’re not busy grading, prepping classes, researching etc., how do you enjoy spending your time?

In my off-hours I am definitely reading… and spending time with my two dogs, friends, and family. I’m passionate about Latin dancing and try to dance a few times a week socially!


Is there anything else that you would like the Belmont community to know about you and/or your role at Belmont? 

The Publishing major is a great double major or minor to pair with English, Public Relations, Marketing, Design Communications, and many other majors, of course including quite a few in my own department. If you have students that love reading and/or writing and want to pair that with practical business skills, this is a good program for them to consider. We equip students with the literary knowledge, writing foundation, and business acumen necessary to become experts in managing authors and their careers. Many creatives themselves work in Publishing as a day job, so I see many savvy students learning the trade from this side of the desk, hoping to one day be the author themselves (a wise and financially-solvent approach to becoming published).

Resource of the Month

This month’s resource Can We Motivate Students to Learn? is found in The Scholarly Teacher. The article, written by Spencer Benson, considers the impact of course content and class environment on student motivation. Dr. Benson has worked in international faculty development for more than 10 years and is the founder and director of Education Innovations International Consulting. The Scholarly Teacher, hosted by the International Teaching Learning Cooperative, presents a balanced approach of scholarly evidence and practical application for enhanced student learning by systematic improvement of effective teaching.


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.

Fall 2019 Events and Deadlines

The Teaching Center has a number of events and opportunities this semester. Details are provided below. The Teaching Center will email invitations and reminders for individual events and opportunities.


Lunch Discussions

Friday, September 27

Diversity and Inclusion From Our Students’ Perspectives

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Massey Boardroom

*in conjunction with Diversity Week


Tuesday, October 8

Pedagogy-Driven Technology Integration: Letting Your Teaching Methods Determine Digital Decisions

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Massey Boardroom


Monday, November 4

The Purposeful Graduate

Noon – 1:30 p.m.

Beaman A & B

Guest Presenter: Tim Clydesdale

*Cosponsored with GPS, the Office of Spiritual Development and OC&PD


Mini-Workshop Series

Measuring Student Learning

Noon – 1 p.m.

Wednesday, September 18

Inman 211

Friday, November 15

Inman 340


Reading Groups 

Dates, Times, and Locations TBD

Belmont Applied Teaching and Learning (BeATLe) Groups

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

Dynamic Lecturing: Research-Based Strategies to Enhance Lecture Effectiveness


Additional Deadlines and Opportunities

Tuesday, September 10 – 4 p.m.

Deadline to submit Teaching Center Travel Grant application


September 17 – October 4

Teaching Center Formative Reviews

Upcoming Teaching Center Events and Opportunities

I’m writing today with the final blog post of the 2018-2019 academic year. The blog will be taking a break until August, but don’t hesitate to contact us in the meantime with any questions, comments, or suggestions. Below are some reminders of upcoming Teaching Center events and opportunities.

  1. If you want to arrange for a consultation regarding your spring semester student course evaluations, please see the email invitation sent from
  2. Also, check your email for a message from Mike with a list of conferences with a SoTL element or emphasis. Where possible, he included deadlines for proposals in case you are interested in developing a presentation proposal for such a conference. The deadline for the next round of Teaching Center Travel Grants is Tuesday, September 10.
  3. Please mark your calendar for our August 12 and 13 Teaching Center Workshops to be led by Dr. Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education, Professor of English, and Director of Georgetown’s Designing the Future(s) Initiative. Dr. Bass will provide an interactive keynote presentation entitled Higher Education and the Future of Human Learning as part of the August 12 morning Fall Faculty Workshop.  He will also facilitate a workshop on Designing for High-Impact Integrative Experiential Learning the afternoon of August 12, with that workshop repeated the morning of August 13. We will send out an email in July inviting you to register for the workshop.
  4. Between now and August, there are several reading groups meeting and discussing books offered by the Teaching Center. Our Teaching Center July 9 lunch discussion will be an opportunity for general conversation about the reading group books. We will send out an email invitation for the lunch discussion one week in advance.
  5. We will welcome our incoming new faculty members to Belmont during New Faculty Orientation scheduled for August 7-9. The Teaching Center works with the Provost’s Office and Human Resources to plan and provide a variety of interactive sessions for NFO.
  6. The Teaching Center will offer two different kinds of reading groups during Fall 2019:
    • a September group, in partnership with the Office of General Education, for a title (to be determined) in anticipation of the September FYS Featured Speaker
    • Belmont Applied Teaching and Learning groups (BeATLes), titles to be determined, are for groups that will meet throughout the semester exploring teaching ideas from the reading

As Mike stated in an email he sent out last week, we hope that summer includes time for reflection, rest, and rejuvenation. If you are around this summer and want to drop by the Teaching Center (JAAC 2049/2050), we would be happy to see you!

Teaching Center Endowment for Faculty Support

In commemoration of the Teaching Center’s 25th Anniversary, a new Teaching Center endowment fund has been established.  During Bruins4Bruins, an annual promotion to encourage members of the Belmont community (alumni, parents, faculty and staff) to support the University and future students, Belmont is highlighting this new fund. Belmont will match, dollar for dollar, gifts of any size from current employees to four special funds, including the new Teaching Center Endowment for Faculty Support. Gifts will be matched through December 31, 2020.

Our goal is to secure $12,500 in the Teaching Center Endowment by June 30, 2019.  We invite you to join us in making a gift to the Teaching Center Endowment and helping us reach this goal during our anniversary year.  You can establish a new or update an existing payroll deduction pledge here, or you can make a one-time gift here. For more information, please feel free to call or contact us in the Teaching Center. You can also contact Debbie Sprang in the Office of Development at or x5460.

Teaching Center May 2019 Workshops

This is a reminder for Belmont faculty to RSVP via email for the upcoming Teaching Center May workshops by Friday, May 3 so we can finalize catering plans. Both workshops will take place on Tuesday, May 7th in the Massey Boardroom. Below, you can see a schedule for the day and brief workshop descriptions.


Gathering time with coffee and pastries – 9:30 – 10:00am

Cultural Humility in the Classroom – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Buffet lunch provided – 12:00 – 1:00pm

“Yes, And” Communication: Improv Exercises for the Classroom – 1:00 – 3:00pm


Cultural Humility in the Classroom
Presented by Dr. Timothy Forde, Vice Provost for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer at Eastern Kentucky University. This workshop is cosponsored by the Office of Multicultural Learning and Experience.

Research on cultural competence has continued to evolve within institutions of higher education, with an increased emphasis on cultural humility, which may be an important construct toward building relationships that honor the diversity of our students who represent marginalized backgrounds due to culture, ethnicity, religion, etc. This workshop will help you answer both the “why” and “how” questions about creating culturally responsive classrooms, regardless of the subject matter you teach.

“Yes, And” Communication: Improv Exercises for the Classroom
Over the last 12 months, many of us have participated in reading groups for If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by Alan Alda.  For this workshop, Jim Al-Shamma (Theatre), Shawn Knight (Theatre) and Jimmy Davis (Communication Studies) will lead us in some improv theatre techniques similar to those described in the book.  The techniques, designed to facilitate more fruitful and effective communication from us to our students and to increase empathy, could also potentially be used for developing student communication skills.  The workshop will focus on actively engaging with each other to experience the improv exercises first-hand.

Resource of the Month

April’s resource, and the final Resource of the Month for the 2018-2019 academic year, is found in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL). The article, Introducing and Evaluating a “Study Smarter, Not Harder” Study Tips Presentation Offered to Incoming Students at a Four-Year University, was written by Tara T. Lineweaver, Amanda C.G. Hall, Diana Hilycord, and Sarah E. Vitelli of Butler University. According to its website, JoSoTL “aims to address contemporary issues bridging teaching and learning in higher education, philosophical approaches to teaching, current research, and praxis.”

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.

Recently at the Teaching Center…

Teaching Center 25th Anniversary Comments

As discussed in last week’s post, the Teaching Center hosted a lunch discussion on April 1 to celebrate 25 years of the Teaching Center at Belmont University. At the luncheon, Vice Provost Phil Johnston spoke about the history and role of the Teaching Center at Belmont University. You can read Dr. Johnston’s comments below.

Dr. Phil Johnston speaks at the Teaching Center 25th Anniversary Celebration.

I want to welcome you on behalf of the Provost and other Senior Leaders.  This is a great day in the life of the Belmont University Teaching Center. For twenty-five years, faculty from Belmont University have benefited in many ways as a result of the leadership, mentorship and guidance offered through the Center.

On a daily basis, the Center staff provide conversations on the art (and science) of teaching and learning.

On a regular basis The Teaching Center offers reading groups, seminars, conferences, lunch discussions, references, retreats, and personal coaching for faculty on the art and scholarship of teaching and learning.

On an annual basis The Teaching Center is instrumental in providing new faculty a thorough orientation to the University, a robust August Workshop for faculty and others, and offers current faculty an array of opportunities to interact with notable faculty from other institutions, providing a dialog with colleagues.

The Center staff are engaged with a network of conferences nationwide, and provide useful information enabling faculty to participate as presenters and engaged learners, even by offering travel grants to support this development!

I want to offer an additional thanks to Mike Pinter, Nathan Webb and Nanci Alsup who currently serve in The Teaching Center, and who have rather recently engaged with the University’s Fellows program.  In the past four or so years, Fellows who have joined us have benefited greatly from the hospitality, engagement and guiding hand of these staff.  Our Fellows program is designed to assist newly minted terminal degree colleagues a structured entry into academia.

It is very likely that every person in this room has benefited in one or more ways from the offerings of The Teaching Center – I know I have.  The commitment of the faculty and staff who have served in The Teaching Center undoubtedly have helped shape and enrich our students’ education and their lives.

I want to say thank you to the faculty who have served as Directors of The Teaching Center over these past 25 years: Mike Awalt, Marcia McDonald, Pete Giordano, Kim Entsminger, Merrie King and Mike Pinter – (twice)!  Along with them have been many hard working members of the Teaching Center Advisory Board, as well as those who have served as Assistant Directors and staff.

I’ll conclude my comments by reminding you that the current Bruins 4 Bruins campaign, announced by Provost Burns recently, features four endowments you can support with your financial gifts.  I ask you to seriously consider these and remember that one of these is the Teaching Center Endowment for faculty support.  We know that in time, gifts donated to this endowment will further the mission of The Teaching Center.

Again, welcome and thank you.

Editorial Note: Please check the blog in the next few weeks for more information on the Teaching Center Endowment.

Recently at the Teaching Center…

Teaching Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Teaching Center Directors Past and Present: Kim Entsminger, Mike Pinter, Pete Giordano, and Marcia McDonald

On April 1, the Teaching Center hosted its final lunch discussion of the spring semester. Faculty and staff gathered to celebrate 25 years of the Teaching Center at Belmont University. At the luncheon, former Teaching Center directors offered comments regarding the role of the Teaching Center on campus during their terms and thus provided some historical framework for the work of the Teaching Center. Specifically, attendees heard from former directors Marcia McDonald (Professor of English), Pete Giordano (Professor of Psychology), and Kim Entsminger (Professor of Chemistry). In addition, current director Mike Pinter and Vice Provost Phil Johnston spoke about the history and role of the Teaching Center at Belmont. Check back over the next few weeks for additional information on the Teaching Center’s 25th anniversary.