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Celebration of Learning provides snapshot of immersive student learning at Vanderbilt

Feb. 1, 2018, 8:09 AM

More than 100 faculty, staff and students attended the Celebration of Learning Jan. 29 in Alumni Hall. (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)
More than 100 faculty, staff and students attended the Celebration of Learning Jan. 29 in Alumni Hall. (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching hosted a Celebration of Learning Jan. 29 that featured 34 student projects, posters and presentations from across campus. Students from six colleges and schools exhibited digital timelines, service learning projects, computer games, manufacturing equipment, podcasts, lab research and other products of their work.

“The goal of the event was to provide a picture of immersive student learning at Vanderbilt and to inspire instructors to engage their students not only as consumers of information, but producers of knowledge,” Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching and senior lecturer in mathematics, said.

More than 100 faculty, staff and students attended the event in Alumni Hall, which featured three rooms of student work: an exhibition hall with posters and projects, a digital media hall featuring podcasts and more, and a presentation hall with screenings and talks. Among the projects exhibited were:

  • Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching and senior lecturer in mathematics (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

    “Existing Quietly, Living Loudly,” a first-person webcomic on identity and culture created by Elizabeth Lee for an Asian American literature course taught by Haerin Shin, assistant professor of English

  • “Non-Cents and Sensibility,” a podcast episode on charter school funding produced by Adam Gottlieb and Caroline Kohler for an education policy course taught by José Cossa, senior lecturer in international education policy and management
  • “Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building,” an online exhibit designed by Buchanan Library Fellow Ellen Dement focused on 150 architectural drawings of the famous building recently acquired by the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery
  • “Kandinsky Visualizer,” computer software that visualizes sound through color implementing theories by Wassily Kandinsky, created by Adam Merki, a student in Vanderbilt’s creative media analysis and practice (CMAP) program

“It was a pleasure to see such a wide variety of student projects, both in medium and discipline,” said Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost for learning and residential affairs. “I’m grateful for the students who shared their work, and for the faculty and staff members who mentored and supported them.”

A student-faculty panel explored the teaching and learning dynamics in courses that lead to projects like the ones shown in the exhibition. Andy Rogers, who designed a video game adaptation of a Japanese myth for a course taught by Bryan Lowe, assistant professor of religious studies, discussed the challenge of creating in a new medium. Kevin Galloway, director of making at the Wond’ry, and students in his “How to Make (Almost) Anything” course shared their human-centered design process for solving problems for local nonprofits. And Carrie Plummer, instructor in nursing, and her student Roxanne Crittenden talked about the opportunities for learning that arise when students take on collaborative projects over multiple semesters.

Students from six colleges and schools exhibited digital timelines, service learning projects, computer games, manufacturing equipment, podcasts, lab research and other products of their work at the Celebration of Learning. (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)
Students from six colleges and schools exhibited digital timelines, service learning projects, computer games, manufacturing equipment, podcasts, lab research and other products of their work at the Celebration of Learning. (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

The event concluded with prizes in three categories as voted on by event attendees.

  • The DO GOOD award for a project most likely to make a positive difference in the world went to “Vana Learning,” software for improving interventions for struggling K-12 students designed by Robert Trone and Joshua Stafford as part of the Wond’ry’s Pre & Post Flight program
  • The BE CREATIVE award for the project that demonstrated the most creativity also went to a Wond’ry project: “Wknot,” an 8 foot-by-8 foot mural made of two miles of yarn by James Cavenaugh and Joshua Forges
  • The TELL A STORY award for the student who best told the story of their project went to Michelle Sidle for her presentation “Perspectives of Students with and without Disabilities on Inclusive Schools in India,” an honors project mentored by Anjali Forber-Pratt, assistant professor of human and organizational development

“We’re happy to talk with faculty about ways to bring a ‘students as producers’ approach to their teaching,” Bruff said. The Center for Teaching is now accepting applications for its May 2018 Course Design Institute, which provides support for faculty in designing courses that involve creative and open-ended projects such as the ones seen at the Celebration of Learning.