The 10 Best Books for College Teachers — Part 2

My list of the books that have sparked the biggest changes in how and why I teach continues this week.  What are your favorites?  Share your recommendations in the “Leave a comment” box below or email me at

Dweck6. For those who are looking for research on why some students give up easily: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck (Ballantine Books, 2006). Her theory on “mindsets” is so compelling that I show her Ted Talk in my classes early in the semester. Her work challenges students who see academic disappointments as proof that they “don’t belong in college” to instead believe that they can learn and grow by using greater effort and more effective learning strategies.

Lang7. For those who are looking for small changes in strategy that can result in significant gains in learning: Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang (Jossey-Bass, 2016).  This is book is for busy pragmatists who want someone who has read the research on learning to translate the findings into effective  classroom practices.  Implementing these strategies doesn’t require redesigning your course.  Instead, you can begin using some of these suggestions tomorrow.

Knowles8. For those who are looking for a deeper understanding of adult education: The Adult Learner by Malcolm S. Knowles, Elwood F. Holton III, Richard A. Swanson, 6th ed. (Elsevier, 2005).  So much of what we do as college teachers has been shaped by the work of Malcolm Knowles, even when we don’t recognize his influence.  This book is a classic that continues to be relevant.  I recently used the chapter on “Making Things Happen by Releasing the Energy of Others” to clarify instructional choices in a learner-centered classroom.

miller9. For those who would like to understand how cognitive science can inform teaching with technology: Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology by Michelle D. Miller (Harvard University Press, 2014).  What sets this book apart is the order of its priorities: learning goals, cognitive theory, and then technology (as opposed to starting with technology, then looking for a way to use it to support learning).  Miller shows us how technology can give us many new ways to align our teaching with the way the mind works.

mellow10. For those who are looking for a new way to connect with colleagues nationally in an effort to improve teaching: Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters! Fostering Student Success Through Faculty-Centered Practice Improvement by Gail O. Mellow, Diana D. Woolis, Marisa Klages-Bombich, and Susan G. Restler (Stylus, 2015).  This promising model is based on is based on self-reflection, a peer-based dialogic process, and data analysis, and provides a way to work with peers from across the country.

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