by Jerod Quinn, Instructional Developer
I have the good fortune to be in a place where there is an abundance of great reading and research available for my profession, instructional development. My co-workers point me towards exciting new ideas in the field along with keeping a list of the foundational writings. And with all that great information available to me right at my fingertips, I have to make a confession. There are several books that I have been referencing lately in my work that I have yet to work through in their entirety, front cover to back cover. I have read huge chunks, connected chapters, and even research cited by the authors, but I have yet to carve out time to read through every single page of the works. I know there is something to be said for being able to pull out what you need from a book, but I think these books deserve a deeper approach than I have given them to date.
But this is the summer where those books are finally going to get their day in the light. There are three books that I am going to read in their entirety. I hope my list can encourage you to pick up a book or two that you keep saying you need to read, and make it happen before the students return this fall. And if you are looking for something to read during these hot summer months while you relax by the pool, take a look at what I’m going to dive into for some inspiration.
Teaching Tips is the swiss army knife of teaching. McKeachie takes mountains of research on everything from course preparation, to active learning, to class discussion, to diverse learners, to experiential learning, to assessing all of those experiences, and everything in between and boils it down into around 15 pages for each topic of rich, evidence-based, practical application. I have already read at least half of this book because I go to specific chapters to get a strong overview on whatever topics I am working with in the moment. This is one of those books that deserves more than just the snatching of bits and pieces as needed.
I have been fumbling with this book for a year now, ever since our director wrote a blog post about Cheating Lessons. While I have repeated the conclusions of this book to various people, I have yet to sift through the details of how James Lang gets to those conclusions. But the starting premise for the book is very intriguing. Instead of beginning with the question, “How can we stop students from cheating?” Lang takes a different approach that leans more towards the root causes of cheating. He begins with, “Why do students cheat in the first place?” Along that journey he digs into the research on cheating and manages to debunk some common myths like students are just lazier these days, and that they cheat more than in the past.
This book has been on my “I need to read this” list longer than any other. How Learning Works is the effort to apply the science behind learning to the practice of teaching and education. The authors name seven overarching principles and then unpack and articulate how to apply that research on learning to the context of the college classroom. But their research doesn’t just stop at the classroom, but the seventh principle is about helping our students become self-directed learners. Metacognition (the process of reflecting on and directing one’s own learning) is something that many, if not most, students don’t naturally do. Some practical instruction in metacognition can go a long way in helping students become self-directed and lifelong learners.
That’s my list for the next couple months. Well, that and The Hunger Games. After all, it is summer. All work and no play…