There are too many great books and articles on teaching and learning to list in one place, but below you’ll find a selection of the texts that we’ve found useful.
An exploration of seven questions that inform the learning process, with answers drawn from the research: How students' prior knowledge affects their learning, how students’ organization of knowledge affect their learning, what factors motivate students to learn, how students develop mastery, what kinds of practice and feedback enhance learning, why student development and course climate matter for student learning, and how students become self-directed learners.
True to the book’s title, You Can Do Anything debunks the myth that a liberal arts education leaves students with few job prospects and even fewer practical skills on the job market. George Anders asserts that liberal arts graduates have soft skills, including curiosity, creativity, and empathy, that are invaluable to the tech industry and STEM fields alike. After breaking down the ways that recent graduates can craft narratives around their experiences with the humanities and bridge their experiences with an increasingly tech-oriented workforce, Anders suggests that we start thinking outside the box about career advancement. If an individual forges a career path through interdisciplinarity, we can continue to imagine—and create—positions that don’t yet exist.
Joseph E. Aoun writes that the skills of a liberal arts education are more in demand than ever in Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Aoun emphasizes that the next generation of students need creativity, ingenuity, and adaptability to fill societal needs that computers and artificial intelligence can’t. Robot-Proof is divided into five chapters, which begin by outlining future workplaces as technology dependent and subsequently propose new learning models for higher education. This book ultimately advocates for three new components to our current education system: humanics (Aoun’s term for a combined technical, data, and human literacy), opportunities for experiential learning, and encouragement of lifelong learning
Syllabus, which takes on the appearance of a black and white composition notebook, functions as a graphic syllabus. Lynda Barry, a visual artist by trade, blends practical assignments with drawings and reflections on her experience as an instructor to address the questions: “What is an image?” and “How far can a pen, a composition notebook, and a burning question take you?” As this book emphasizes that classrooms are built on observation, it allows readers to follow along in an extended, guided reflection on teaching a definition of art.
In this book, Ken Bain explains the results of his research of investigating various professors from various departments to figure out what makes a great professor so effective. In 8 chapters he goes over his study, emphasizing the traits of a good professor, such as adaptability (adjusting what and how they teach to respond to the students’ needs as individuals and as a whole), respecting the students (not just having faith in their abilities, but also granting them some autonomy over their coursework), creating an engaging and safe environment in which students can struggle and succeed, and being willing to listen to feedback and criticism.
This book, which has become something of a classic in the field, covers a range of topics concerning the teaching of writing, reading, and critical thinking—and the relationships between them. Along with particular tools and strategies for teaching, Engaging Ideas discusses assignment design (including both formal, graded assignments, and informal, low-stakes assignments) and methods for assessing student learning.
On the one hand, this book is a debunker of many of the things we believe about learning but that research doesn’t actually support, including everything from the usefulness of immediate and single-minded repetition to a reverence for learning styles. On the other, the volume outlines a set of strategies that do help people learn, including practicing the retrieval of knowledge, particularly when the retrieval is spaced out, varied, and effortful, and more.
In The Spark of Learning, Sarah Rose Cavenagh explores the benefits of intentionally engaging students’ emotions in the classroom. Cavenagh explains that our traditional models for teaching and learning follow the assumption that reason supersedes emotion and that learning should be wholly impartial. Yet this structure often leaves students uninterested and therefore unable to absorb the full scope of course material. Cavenagh draws on the field of affective science—at the juncture of education, psychology, and neuroscience—to argue that educators should target students’ emotions in their teaching style and course design. Each chapter in The Spark of Learning provides practical examples of classroom activities that can help educators add emotion to their pedagogical tool kit, and, ultimately, enhance students’ working memory, bolster motivation, and improve long-term retention.
Daniel F. Chambliss and Christopher G. Takacs tackle how colleges can improve without using additional resources in How College Works. Their book traces college students’ experiences from “Entering” and “Choosing” to “Learning” and “Finishing” their education. After studying one hundred students at Hamilton College, a small liberal arts college, over eight years, Chambliss and Takacs conclude that one factor defines the student experience: people. Personal relationships—both with teachers and peers—made a significant improvement in academic outcomes, in addition to students’ overall motivation to learn. Chambliss and Takacs conclude their study with six actions that college leaders can take to help students to form networks and, ultimately, get the most out of their college experience.
This article goes over the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, highlighting the limitations and advantages of each. Professor Chasteen argues that intrinsic motivations work better, and provides an extensive list of reasons why and suggestions of how to engage and enhance a student’s motivations in class. These suggestions are surprisingly extensive, and are divided into separate sections for ease of focus.
This chapter argues that faculty learn to teach one way or another—either through formal opportunities or informally, as a result of experience—and breaks down the different opportunities and moments in the life of a teacher when faculty development can and does happen: (1) formal faculty development in planned events, like workshops and conferences; (2) individual, intentional, self-directed efforts through doing SoTL research or reading up in the literature; and (3) regularly occurring events in the faculty lifecycle, including annual reviews, hiring experiences, and so on, where development may happen more incidentally than intentionally. The authors suggest that faculty development does lead to changes in teaching practice, and make the point that we need to do more work to demonstrate that those changes lead to changes in student learning.
Clifton Conrad and Marybeth Gasman explore best practices of minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in Educating a Diverse Nation: Lessons From Minority Serving Institutions. These MSIs, which include tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions, have developed specific initiatives to improve learning and persistence for nontraditional students. Conrad and Gasman illuminate specific strategies developed at MSIs, such as peer-led learning and opportunities for real-world problem solving, and ultimately conclude that these practices can be implemented more widely to enhance educational opportunities for all students.
Though brief, this article discusses the benefits of going over the syllabus last during the first class session of the semester, instead starting with more active exercises. Linguistics Professor Anne Curzan relates how she opens her sessions with linguistic games and puzzles to show the students the kind of participatory, investigative, and engaging course her class will be. When she finally gets to the syllabus, she can then reference what they discussed/did earlier to emphasize her motives and explain her expectations for the class.
Cathy Davidson’s The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux examines contemporary education as a system that was developed in the late nineteenth century following the Industrial Revolution. Explaining that we now live in a “post-internet” age, Davidson proposes changes to our education system that will prepare students to adapt to a rapidly changing job market. The New Education focuses on how to improve student learning, including competing arguments of “Against Technophobia” and “Against Technophilia,” and declares the importance of soft skills, such as collaboration and creativity. This book incorporates numerous case studies at institutions ranging from local community colleges to large public universities before concluding with two skills-based appendices: one for students, “Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your College Experience,” and one for teachers, “Ten Tips for Transforming Any Classroom for Active, Student-Centered Learning.”
This revised version of Davis’s book traces strategies for faculty across disciplines and particularly targets teachers at different points in their careers: junior, mid-career, and senior faculty. Davis provides resources from the organization of a course to delivering a lecture to end-of-semester evaluations. Although unable to discuss each concept in depth, Tools For Teaching serves as an excellent index for thinking about tools—conceptual and technical—to use in the classroom.
Written for undergraduates, this book is not a study skills book, but rather a concise and accessible introduction to recent research on the brain and how to effectively align one’s habits and lifestyle with the concrete lessons we learn from that research. It’s thick on brain processes and the healthy practices that support learning. Although oriented to students, it’s extremely useful for faculty and others interested in helping students to be self-aware about their practices and how to get the biggest bang for your brain’s buck.
Carol Dweck explores the importance of mindset in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dweck outlines a binary between two types of mindsets, fixed and growth, where a fixed mindset refers to someone who believes their abilities are unchangeable and a growth mindset refers to someone who believes their abilities can be improved and developed. If individuals adopt a growth mindset and remain open to change, Dweck asserts, they are more likely to experience long term fulfillment and success. Each section of this book breaks down mindsets for topics from business to sports to love before offering advice to parents, teachers, and coaches on how they can encourage growth. At the end of each chapter, Dweck also includes specific, practical ways to apply the lessons from her research.
The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters draws on each of the five authors’ experiences at myriad undergraduate institutions to identify what makes an undergraduate institution matter. This book is structured around six proposed characteristics that create a successful undergraduate experience: learning, relationships, expectations, alignment, improvement, and leadership. Each chapter elaborates on one of the six characteristics before offering practical, action-based principles to integrate the characteristic at institutions. Overall, The Undergraduate Experience acts as a guidebook for sustaining excellence in a rapidly changing world of higher education.
This book chronicles the development of academic “interdisciplines,” such as gender and ethnicity studies, that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s in response to movements for social justice. Ferguson takes up the question of disciplines designed to deal with difference, and asks how these disciplinary shifts have evolved alongside challenges to contemporary power structures in the academy.
This edited volume brings together personal narratives and empirical research about the experiences of women of color in academia from over 40 authors. The texts explore topics ranging from hiring, promotion and tenure to negotiating relationships with colleagues and building coalitions between and among institutions.
Scott Hartley’s The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World parses the differences between “fuzzies,” students of humanities and social sciences, and “techies,” students of engineering and hard sciences. Debunking common idea that techies are the individuals that prompt innovation, Hartley asserts that it is actually fuzzies who bring creativity and originality to technical developments. In particular, fuzzies possess soft skills, such as persuasive communication, that can greatly benefit an increasingly tech-based world. Each chapter of this book covers a different concept, including applying tools with context, making technology more ethical, algorithms that serve—rather than rule—us, and the future of jobs. The Fuzzy and the Techie concludes by hypothesizing how we can create a world where fuzzies become more techie and vice versa.
Each chapter is a standalone, covering a host of obstacles for teaching science in an undergraduate curriculum. Overall, the book stands as a research-based advocacy for the significance and efficiency of active learning in STEM fields. Eminently practical and covering most aspect of college learning processes, it’s an easy way to think through the effectiveness of one’s own teaching and pick up a myriad of research-based techniques for making teaching effective.
In this book, bell hooks reflects on her experiences in the classroom, both as a student and later an educator. Her reflections are woven into her theories on pedagogical approaches to the classroom that can provide freeing and engaging experiences for all students in the classroom. Viewing education and theory as “a liberatory practice,” hooks emphasizes the role of education in empowering students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries. Throughout the chapters of this collection, hooks also focuses in on feminist theory, the role of personal experience in the classroom, and her inspiration in Paulo Freire.
This book is a comprehensive reflection on mentorship in academia, covering everything from the robust benefits of mentorship and the many forms it can take to the skills and attributes faculty need to navigate these relationships successfully and the obstacles and challenges that can arise along the way. Later chapters examine particular dynamics—mentoring of undergraduates vs. graduate students vs. junior faculty; mentoring and race; mentoring and gender—as well as the role that departmental and college-level administrators can play in fostering an environment where mentorship can thrive.
This volume of essays responds to a four-year study of undocumented college students in the United States. The study focused on experiences of undocumented students alongside the responses of administrators, staff, and faculty at U.S. Catholic Jesuit colleges and universities between June 2012 and July 2012. Each essay in Undocumented and in College focuses on a different aspect of this research, including legal challenges, opportunities for undocumented students, and the historical treatment of immigration in the U.S. In the conclusion, Jones and Nichols offer a set of cost-effective practices that institutions can adopt to further improve their support of undocumented students in an increasingly turbulent political era.
Like the title suggests, this book emphasizes “small teaching” and offers small, practical strategies to facilitate better student learning. Each of the chapters models a different technique and suggests how and when the concept can be implemented in a class—often this occurs over one or two class periods. Lang’s examples range from regaining student attention after a conversation gets derailed to providing an effective wrap-up at the end of class discussion. While the strategies in Small Teaching can be implemented individually (and almost immediately), Lang also helps readers to think more broadly about knowledge, understanding, and inspiration in the classroom.
In this article, which reviews the literature on inclusive teaching, the authors argue that a truly inclusive learning environment is best created if there are commitments at several levels in an institution; a learning environment becomes inclusive when we incorporate the lived experiences of students, the disciplinary engagements and skills of faculty, the interdisciplinary expertise of academic developers, and the policies and governance created and supported by administrators. They also discuss the need to consider assessment (the ways in which we evaluate students) when we think about inclusivity.
This article has professors from various universities weigh in on the pros and cons of flipped classrooms. The first two are Professors Yakut Gazi and Stephen Harmon, who take a positive view of the potential for a flipped classroom; they argue that the ability to take the passive elements of teaching, such as lectures, and put them outside class time opens class meetings to more active discussions, presentations, and engagements with the content. Professor Jonathan Rees, however, argues that most notions of a flipped classroom are just putting online aspects of a traditional class without adjusting or consideration to fit the potential of the technology. He is more skeptical than the previous professors, believing that the only reason to flip a classroom (or add some new type of technology to one’s teaching) should be motivated by careful study of the technology and a sincere belief that it will help the students; flipping the classroom just because it seems to be the new thing, to Rees, is detrimental to both students and professors. Lastly, Professor Robert Talbert goes a step further and argues that the central course all the professors are discussing—Professor Malan’s CS50 course at Harvard—wasn’t a flipped course. Instead of altering the traditional teaching method using technology to emphasize the active learning component of education (the part that really challenges students to do their own critical analysis and research), Malan’s class just shifted the traditional model from in-class to online. This is why, to Talbert, Malan’s class failed.
Saundra McGuire, an educator, scholar, and Director Emerita of the Louisiana State University’s Center for Academic Success, writes extensively about the benefits—and the reach of who can benefit—of metacognitive learning strategies. McGuire outlines how introducing students to Bloom’s Taxonomy, growth mindset, and specific study tactics can yield more understanding for all students, including those who arrive on campus underprepared.
Draws on student narratives and demographic research, this book investigates the relationship between higher education and the structures of class in the United States. Crucially, the book confronts the mythology of upward mobility in American society and argues that higher education must re-think its commitment to equality of opportunity to better engage with the issue of class.
Smith has been at the forefront of fostering diversity in higher education for years. This book, solidly grounded in the scholarship, offers history and context that in and of itself make reading it worthwhile, but is ultimately focused on a wealth of distilled findings concerning how to make a positive impact with regard to marginalized communities in higher education today. Additionally, the book wades directly into the contentious discussion concerning just what diversity is—what we mean by it, what we ought to mean by it, and the thorny challenges that arise with a diversity agenda.
Steele helped introduce to the world to the “Stereotype Threat”—the now well-documented phenomenon where known social stereotypes related to identity (e.g., race, gender, age) can significantly impact the performance (for both good and ill) of those who feel linked to the identity in question, particularly when that identity is made salient. This book is a wonderfully readable and engaging summation of decades of research on the topic, together with solid advice for how to mitigate stereotype threat’s potential harms and help students to achieve their potential. NOTE: The original article that began this line of research was: Steele, C.M. & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype Threat and the Intellectual Test Performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797-811.
Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Can We Talk about Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation asserts that society has trouble discussing race and racial issues and that this problem is amplified in higher education. Tatum begins by describing the resegregation that has occurred post-Brown v. Board of Education before explaining the importance of creating a space for racial diversity in higher education. Tatum ultimately puts forth the ABCs of creating learning environments: affirming identity, building community, and cultivating leadership. Each chapter in this book balances theoretical framework with answers to the question: “What can I do?”
In this book, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., a psychologist and President Emerita of Spelman College, examines racial identity development in the context of Whiteness in the US, aiming to prepare readers to engage in conversations about race. Starting with a framing definition of racism through her “moving walkway of racism” metaphor, Tatum focuses on Black and White identity as well as challenges facing communities of color in a society where Whiteness is seen as “normal” or “neutral.” Tatum’s background includes work on race relations in the classroom, and this text also discusses racial identity development in adulthood. First published in 1997, the latest edition includes commentary on the role of the Obama presidency in the US conversation about race.
In this book, Wehlburg uses assessment and student learning data as a framework to discuss many key aspects of good teaching and learning practice. From classroom assessment techniques to experiential and problem-based learning activities, her book centers on using data on student learning to make informed course design decisions. A quick and easy read, this is a great introduction to assessment as part of the teaching and learning cycle.
Wiggins and McTighe have become well known for their exploration, in this book, of the concept of “backward design.” This pedagogical approach asks us to think about what goals we have for student learning and to work backward from there to figure out what sorts of pedagogical choices we need to make—what we teach, what we assign, what and how we grade—in order to help students reach those goals. In Understanding by Design, as the title suggests, the authors argue for the importance of making understanding (in all its complexity) one of your central goals, and they delve into the different ways you can pursue understanding.
Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom uncovers how students’ minds work. David T. Willingham offers a series of principles about learning, memory, and cognition that indicate intelligence is malleable, despite a common Western notion that intelligence is inherited. Willingham subsequently proposes strategies that instructors can use to better engage with their students and improve students’ engagement in the classroom. Each chapter in this book addresses a question ranging from “Why Do Students Remember Everything That’s on Television and Forget Everything I Say?” to “How Should I Adjust My Teaching for Different Types of Learners?”
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