As a college teacher who spent many hours during the last ten years reading books, articles, and conference proposals on the art and science of teaching, I believe that the best books for college teachers are the ones that provide a new framework, new research, or new ideas on how to develop a strong instructional practice. Of the books I’ve highlighted in this blog, these are the ones that have sparked the biggest changes in how and why I teach. We’ll look at the first five this week, and the next five next week.
- For those who are looking for a book that addresses the challenge of having students who don’t know how to do college-level work: Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation by Saundra Yancy McGuire with Stephanie McGuire (Stylus, 2015). This semester, I am using the approach – and the Power Point slides – that she developed. So far, the changes I’ve made are promising.
2. For those who are looking for current research on how learning works: Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roedigerr III, and Mark A. McDaniel (Harvard University Press, 2014) This book, written by two cognitive scientists and a journalist, is simultaneously science-based and enjoyable to read. In addition to requiring it in my English 2 course, I also practice many of its suggestions in all my courses.
3.For those who are looking for a better understanding of the “guide on the side” approach to learning: Learner-Centered Teaching, 2nd edition by Maryellen Weimer (Jossey-Bass, 2013). This book on learner-centered teaching will give you a firm grounding in a research-based approach that leads to “the development of autonomous, self-directed, and self-regulated learners.” More than anyone else, Weimer has influenced my orientation toward instruction.
4. For those who would like to explore what is required to be a teacher: The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, 10th Anniversary Edition by Parker J. Palmer (Wiley, 2007). This book is unique in that it focuses on examining your courage, or ability to keep your heart open, which Palmer says is a requirement for learning and supporting the learning of others. This book has had a profound influence on my core beliefs about who I am as a teacher.
5. For those who are looking for a research-based approach to discussion: Discussion in the College Classroom: Getting Your Students Engaged and Participating in Person and Online by Jay R. Howard (Jossey-Bass, 2015). Howard is a sociologist who has studied discussion for many years. He is also a very engaging writer whose insights in this important topic can help you recognize students who are paying “civil attention” instead of being involved with the conversation.