The “Great” Teaching Book Club: Essential Reads on Teaching in Higher Education

It started with a simple question posted on the POD (Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education) listserve by Dr. Rebecca Clemente, North Central College, Illinois,  “If you could give one book on college teaching to new tenure track faculty what would you recommend?…”

The resulting list of references provided an intriguing overview of  many highly recommended reads in higher education.    I am consistently asked to provide recommendations to faculty and graduate students on “essential” books on teaching in higher education.  Of course, my response depends heavily upon context, but I think the below list, which summarizes the listserve’s response to Dr. Clemente’s original post (to the best of my abilities), provides a great starting point.

May each of our bibliographies of essential reads in higher education continue to grow with our passion for excellence in teaching and student learning!

Summary of Recommendations Provided on the POD ListServe

Angelo, T.A. and Cross, K.P. 1993. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd Edition.  Jossey-Bass

Bain, K. 2004. What the Best College Teachers Do. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Barkley, E. 2009. Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. Wiley.

Bean, J.C. 1996. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. Jossey-Bass.

Biggs, J. 2003. Teaching for Quality Learning at University. The Society for Research into Higher Education, Buckingham and Open University Press.

Boice, R. 2000. Advice for New Faculty Members. Allyn & Bacon.

Brinkley, A., Dessanto, B., Flamn, M., Fleming, C., Forcey, C.B. Jr., and Rothschild, E.  1999.  The Chicago Handbook for Teachers: a Practical Guide to the College Classroom. University of Chicago Press.

Brookfield, S.  2006. The Skillful Teacher. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Davis, B. 2010.  Tools for Teaching, 2nd edition. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Dunlosky, J. and Metcalfe, J. 2009.  Metacognition. Sage, Los Angeles.

Entwistle, N. 2009.  Teaching for Understanding at University: Deep Approaches and Distinctive Ways of Thinking. Palgrave MacMillian.

Fink, D. 2003.  Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Finkel, D.L. 2000.  Teaching with your Mouth Shut. Boyton/Cook.

Filene, P.  2005.  The Joy of Teaching: A Practical Guide for New College Instructors. The University of North Carolina Press.

Gareis, S. and Grant, L. 2008.  Teacher-made Assessments. Eye on Education, Larchmont, NY.

Hooks, B. 1994.  Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Routledge.

Huston, T. 2009.  Teaching What You Don’t Know. Harvard University Press.

Jones, T.B. 2005.  The Missing Professor. Stylus, Sterling, VA.

King, P.M. and Kitchener, K.S. 1994. Developing Reflective Judgment. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Lang, J.M. 2008.  On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching. Harvard University Press.

Leamnson, R. 1999.  Thinking about Teaching and Learning – Developing habits of learning with First year College and University Students. Stylus, Sterling, VA.

Lindley, D. 1993.  This Rough Magic the Life of Teaching.  Bergin and Garvey Paperback.

McKeachie, W. 2010.  McKeachie’s Teaching Tips:  Strategies Research and Theory for College and University Teachers, 13th Edition. Wadsworth.

Millis, B. (Ed.) 2010. Cooperative learning in higher education: across the disciplines, across the academy. Stylus Press, Sterling, VA.

Nuhfer, E.B. et al., 2006. A Handbook for Student Management Teams. California State University of the Channel Islands.

Parini, J. 2004.  The Art of Teaching. Oxford University Press.

Stevens, D. and Levi, A. 2005. Introduction to Rubrics. Stylus, Sterling, VA.

Walvoord, B.E. and Anderson, V.J. 2009. Effective Grading: a Tool for Learning and Assessment in College, 2nd Edition. Jossey-Bass.

Weimer, M. 2002. Learner Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. Jossey-Bass: A Wiley Company, San Francisco.

Willingham, D. 2009. Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom . Jossey-Bass.

Zander, R.S. and Zander, B. 2000.  The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Harvard Business School Press.

Zull, J. 2002. The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning. Stylus Publishing.

Author: natashakenny

Senior Director, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary. Interdisciplinary academic and professional background in educational development, landscape architecture, urban planning and environmental science.

5 thoughts on “The “Great” Teaching Book Club: Essential Reads on Teaching in Higher Education”

  1. Natasha, any guidance on how to approach this list?
    – The first book to read is X, followed by Y, Z.
    – If you are interested in or have a problem with X, then read A, B, C; if you are interested in or have a problem with Y, then read D, E, F

    1. Hi Karl,

      It really does depend on context. Some are more for reference (e.g. Davis, McKeachie) and worth having in your office. However, I would recommend Bain (2004) and Brookfield (2006), and Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach (which was not included, but is a personal favorite). I have heard rave reviews about Hooks (1994) and Lang (2008) and look forward to reading them as well! We should start a teaching book club!


  2. I agree that a teaching book club would be great. I agree that The Courage to Teach is a great read and very inspirational.

  3. Woah this weblog is fantastic i love studying your posts. Stay up the great paintings! You already know, a lot of people are looking around for this info, you could help them greatly.

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