Home Page Links

Goals of the Site


Short Vitae

Site Map


See also Recommended Reading for History Teaching

Recommended Reading for Teaching University

My discipline is history, yet I have become deeply interested in the research on learning and its implications for effective teaching to improve my practice. Having served my university as the director of our Teaching and Learning Enhancement Center, I felt compelled to develop an expertise on best practices. If you do not have much experience in reading handbooks for college professors, be forwarned that some of the menmoic devices and graphics may appear simplistic, and that the practice of writing an overview or highlighting a key idea before launching into the substance may put off readers. If you can adjust your expectations, there are many useful suggestions that you can adopt or adapt. However, keep in mind that none of these ideas are going to magically solve all teaching challenges that we face in the 21st century university classroom. Yet, many of these authors make me realize the struggles are real, to make changes where I can, and wisdom to accept limits. They help me "to be" with the complexity and messiness of teaching. Finally, the more you read about teaching in higher education, especially the handbook-styled publications, the more you realize that some teaching techniques or strategies are recycled or reinvented from earlier works and adapted to current situations. The titles and annotations listed here represent my short list of recommendations (mostly books to keep it brief). Some of these titles have had a profound impact on how I think about the art and sceince of teaching, others are incredibly pragmatic though not "page turners." (The compilation and annotation of this list is a work in progress; updated 12 Aug 2019.)

Angelo, Thomas A. and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

This classic, yet still relevant, collection of classroom assessment techniques (CATS) shows faculty ways in which you can "plan, implement, and anaylze" student learning. It provided step-by-step directions and suggests adaptations. Compare it to the updated approach by Elizabeth Barkley and Claire Howell Major, Learning Assessment Techniques (2016).

Barkley, Elizabeth, Claire Howell Major, and K. Patricia Cross. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.

Puts forth a case for collaborative learning which might include singular events or more long-term. Each of the thirty collaborative learning techniques (COLTs) are introduced, steps provided, adapatations, and samples of how college faculty have implemented.

Barkley, Elizabeth, and Claire Howell Major. Interactive Lecturing: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2018.

Lectures are still a core practice for college faculty. Barkley and Major explore the positives and negatives of lecturing. They argue that lectures can be an affective strategy, if they are well-planned, well-delivered, and punctuated with active learning giving students opportunities to work with the content. This handbook summarizes the literature on the learning potential for lectures, then divided into two major sections "Engaging Presentation Tips" and "Active Learning Techniques." In each of these sections, Barkley and Major provide step-by-step instructions with examples that are very useful. If you want to develop your lecture skills, this book is a good place to start though with so many of these handbooks, readers might be put off by mnemonics.

Barkley, Elizabeth F. and Claire Howell Major. Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016.

Barkley and Major offer Learning Assessment Techniques (LATs) takes a fresh approach to methods faculty can adopt to assess their students' learning that began with Angelo and Cross publication Classroom Assessment Techniques. Informed by principles of backward design, Barkley and Cross describe a cycle that faculty can implement in order define learning goals, determine how you will assess students, how to analyze the results, and determine if you need to adjust. Then they proceed to outline LATs for learning domains or taxonomies as defined by L. Dee Fink in Creating Significant Learning Experiences.

Barkley, Elizabeth F. Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.

From the publisher: "Student Engagement Techniques (SETs) is a comprehensive resource that offers college teachers a dynamic model for engaging students and includes over one hundred tips, strategies, and techniques that have been proven to help teachers from a wide variety of disciplines and institutions motivate and connect with their students. The ready-to-use format shows how to apply each of the book's techniques in the classroom and includes purpose, preparation, procedures, examples, online implementation, variations and extensions, observations and advice, and key resources.” The format and ideas are incredibly useful, and the variations can help faculty ponder adaptations.

Barr, Robert B., and John Tagg. "From Teaching to Learning - A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education." Change. November/December 1995.

In this ground-breaking essay, Barr and Tagg argued that universities were shifting (or should shift) from the "instruction paradigm", in which content experts transfer their knowledge to students, to a "learning paradigm," in which student needs are the driving force in decisions about budgets, technologies, teaching pedagogies. Of course, student needs change over time, so institutions need to be able to adapt. In terms of pedagogy, the implication is that college professors should reconsider their heavy dependency on lectures if these do not improve student learning.

Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. Second Edition. Forword Maryellen Weimer. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.

Loads of inspiring ideas. From the publisher: "Learn to design interest-provoking writing and critical thinking activities and incorporate them into you courses in a way that encourages inquiry, exploration, discussion, and debate,..."

Bishop-Clark, Cathy, and Beth Dietz-Uhler. Engaging in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: A Guide to the Process, and How to Develop a Project from Start to Finish. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus, 2012.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) shows faculty how they could conduct research on their teaching and student learning, which will increase their fulfillment and improve student learning, and then publish that research. They also suggest ways to collaborate with faculty in other disciplines - useful tips for those of us not familiar with writing surveys or conducting quantitative or qualitative research.

Bonk, Curtis J. and Ke Zhang. Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

While specific technology can become quickly outdated, Bonk and Zhang's approach of read, reflect, display, and do (R2D2) is based on sound pedagogical principles.

Bowen, Jose Antonio. Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning.. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

From the publisher: “Introducing a new way to think about higher education, learning, and technology that prioritizes the benefits of the human dimension. José Bowen recognizes that technology is profoundly changing education and that if students are going to continue to pay enormous sums for campus classes, colleges will need to provide more than what can be found online and maximize “naked” face-to-face contact with faculty. Here, he illustrates how technology is most powerfully used outside the classroom, and, when used effectively, how it can ensure that students arrive to class more prepared for meaningful interaction with faculty. Bowen offers practical advice for faculty and administrators on how to engage students with new technology while restructuring classes into more active learning environments.”

Bowen, Jose Antonio, and C. Edward Watson. Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Guide to Designing Better Classes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

After summarizing essential research on the brain and learning, Bowen and Watson provided step-by-step guides and examples on the following topics: "Transparency and Clearer Targets," "Finding Online Content for First Exposure," "Creating your own Digital Content," Entry Points, Online Exams, Preclass Assignments, Cognitive Wrappers, Grading and Feedback, etc. This book complements the2012 publication by Bowen. It offers many useful ideas, but if you are well-read in pedagogy, you will also notice that Bowen and Watson depend heavily on other big names such as L. Dee Fink.

Brookfield, Stephen D., and Stephen Preskill. Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005, 1999.

Brookfield and Preskill advocate discussion methods as a way of learning. The methods that they suggest encourage a democratic classroom and ways to get students to come to class prepared.

Brookfield, Stephen D. The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, Technique, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2015.

Stephen Brookfield encourages us to think about the teacher-student relationship. His philosophical reflections that originate from years of teaching are also shaped by the science of learning. In addition, he offers practical advice on ways to improve our teaching.

Brookfield, Stephen D., et al. Teaching Race: How to Help Unmask and Challenge Racism. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2019.

Brown, Peter C., Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A McDaniel. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press, 2014.

Have you ever taken a test or written an essay, and could recall little after the event? Why? Drawing upon the most recent science about learning, the authors challenge us to use this science oflearning to help our students develop effective study habits. Best practices for learning should also interest high school teachers, who can help high school students discover how practicing retrieval and interleaving can make lead to successful learning. Compare to James Zull, The Art of Changing the Brain

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper Perennial, 1990; 2008.

This monograph is an intriguing read that is not about teaching university. Czikszentmihalyi's research explores how we achieve "optimal experience" that satisfying state of consciousness called flow. Yet when I read Flow, it helped me understand the joy that comes with highly satisfying work and hobbies. It helped me to ponder how I can create learning experiences that might move students in that direction.

Doyle, Terry. Helping Students Learn in a Learner-Centered Environment. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publications, 2008.

Creating a learner-centered classroom can disrupt college students' expectations that teachers transfer knowledge to students. A learner-centered classroom tends to make use of active learning strategies and encourage students to make choices to enhance their learning. Doyle sets forth the rationale for why this strategy is essential and how to make the choices transparent for students to reduce their resistance.Several chapters will help faculty uncover ways to "impart the skills that stduents need to learn or hone if they are to be effective learners in an environment that is new to them."

Doyle, Terry. Learner-Centered Teaching: Putting the Research on Learning Into Practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publications, 2011.

In addition to describing what a Learner-Centered Classroom (LCT) is, Doyle sets forth the research on its advantages, points out that faculty may already be adopting LCT, and suggests methods to put the idea into practice.

Doyle, Terry and Todd Zakrajsek. The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with your Brain. Foreword Kathleen F. Gabriel. Second Edition. Stirling, VA: Stylus, 2019.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine, 2006.

This is a just a good read. Dweck shares research on the psychology of success. From the publisher: "Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success – but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising our children’s intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to improve in school, as well as reach our own goals, personal and professional. Dweck reveals ... how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area." Dweck has a website, where one can take a survey that indicates whether or not you have a growth mindset, then provide a link to encourage you purchase: Mindset.

Fink, L. Dee. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. Revised and Expanded. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013.

Fink challenges professors to create significant learning experiences by urging us to break free from a content-centered approach to developing or designing courses based on backward design principles. Fink's "taxonomy of significant learning" (Foundational Knolwedge, Application, Integration, Human Dimension, Caring, Learning How to Learn) encourages us to design courses that incorporate all six of these domains, to create assessments that are authentic, meaningful, and that our feedback be lovingly, respectfully delivered to students so they can improve. When you finish working through the stages of development outlined by Fink, you may still teach the same content, but you will be driven by purpose, create a more caring, meaningful learning environment. (I re-read Fink in May 2019, and I found that his research and examples are becoming dated even though Fink's conceptualization of course design is still powerful.)

Fink, L. Dee, and Arletta Knight Fink, eds. “Designing Courses for Significant Learning: Voices of Experience.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning Fall 2009, no. 119: 1-119.

A very useful collection of essays to consult after you familiarize yourself with Fink's book. Professors, from a range of disciplines, who have adopted the Fink's approach to course design, share their experiences.

Gabriel, Kathleen F. Teaching Underprepared Students: Strategies for Promoting Success and Retention in Higher Education. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus, 2008.

From the Publisher: "This book provides professors and their graduate teaching assistants those at the front line of interactions with students with techniques and approaches they can use in class to help at-risk students raise their skills so that they can successfully complete their studies. The author shares proven practices that will not only engage all students in a class, but also create the conditions while maintaining high standards and high expectations to enable at-risk and under-prepared students to develop academically and graduate with good grades. The author also explains how to work effectively with academic support units on campus."

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. Fourth Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2018.

How did you learn to write in your discipline? How do undergrads learn to write for a variety of disciplines? We cannot solely depend upon freshmen composition courses. Graf and Birkenstein point out that we can help students to write for different audiences by modeling the behavior, suggesting forumulas in order to demystify the process. Implementing the ideas in They Say/I Say will also help under-prepared students to catch up. From the publisher: "shows that writing well means mastering some key rhetorical moves, the most important of which is to summarize what others have said ("they say") in order to set up one's own argument ("I say"). Templates help students make these moves in their own writing, and 50 readings demonstrate the moves and prompt students to think—and write."

Gurung, Regan A. R., et al., eds. Exploring Signature Pedagogies: Approaches to Teaching Disciplinary Habits of Mind. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus, 2009.

Helping students to decode our disciplines will help them learn how to learn. What are the hidden assumptions about how you practice your discipline? What skills are necessary? What sort of dispositions should practioners desire? This book encourages you ponder these questions from a variety of disciplines. This book in partner with several others made me realize the importance of not just being able to "do history," but being able articulate it for students who are novices in my discipline.

Hansen, Edmund J. Idea-Based Learning: A course Design Process to Promote Conceptual Understanding. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus, 2011.

This publication fits into the category of decoding disciplines as a way of approaching the design of your syllabi. If we shape our course design and content around the big ideas that define our disciplines, we increase the potential of making the content relevant. Inviting students in as novices who are joining our discipline.

Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. New York: Random House, 2007, 2008.

Not to be confused with Make It Stick, the Heath brothers are addressing a wider audience than college professors. Their work is drawn more from their research of the literature on how the brain learns rather than their own research. If you are a college professor who wants to learn more about about the psychology and biology of learning and its implications for our teaching, I would suggest Brown, et al.'s Make It Stick. I would also recommend James Zull.

Howard, Jay R. Discussion in the College Classroom: Getting your Students Engaged and Participating in Person and Online. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2015.

Huston, Therese. Teaching What you Don’t Know. Massachusetts, CA: Harvard University Press, 2009, 2012.

Don't judge the book by its title. Huston is in no way suggesting that we teachg what we don't know. Indeed, she shares an apocryphal story about a faculty member who lost tenure because their department kept assigning courses that were not only new preps, but on the margins of their expertise. Still, situations arise where we are teaching on the margins of our disciplines, perhaps we stepped in for a colleague, or some of the content of general education courses is unfamiliar. I would recommend Huston to faculty at any level of experience, but I do think newer faculty will find the content especially worthwhile. Huston empathetically shares struggles while offering advice on how to prepare, why it's essential to evaluate your teaching during the semester, and developing a perspective on our students.

Lindsay, Peter. The Craft of University Teaching. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.

Lindsay's tone is refreshing though his discussion of technology assumes distance education can never achieve a high enough quality. Lindsay persuasively argues that faculty need to approach their teaching as a craft that must be developed as intentionally and scholarly as we do our research. After all, most of us were hired to teach, not necessarily on research (unless you are in R1 institutions). His discussion about developing your "teaching persona" may help individuals who struggle with their teaching roles.

McGuire, Saundra Yancy, and Stephanie McGuire. Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies you can Incorporate into any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation. Foreword Thomas A. Angelo. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2015.

Saundra McGuire is the principle author, and she shares her journey to realizing that it is worth "sacrificing" content in order to teach students how to study. As a chemist (and belated career in student learning), McGuire has encountered many students who seek help after it appears too late to help them. What she found in many cases: students studied but they did not learn. So she helped them to understand levels of cognition (i.e. Bloom's taxonomy), and that all students are capable of learning. McGuire shares her secrets and includes content that any faculty can put into PPT slides to teach students how to learn. Many of her examples and success stories come from chemistry classes.

Nilson, Linda B. Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2013.

Frankly, I have never been disappointed in any book by Linda Nilson. She is empathetic and understands the struggles that faculty face in the classroom; she draws upon the research on teaching and learning to explain strategies that are learner-centered which ultimately acknowledges that students must do the learning, our responsibility is to to create stimulating learning environments. In this volume, Nilson explains the concept of self-regulation, that is students need to learn how to learn (a.k.a. meta-cognition) in order to thrive. Then she offers "an array of tested activities and assignments through which students can progressively reflect on, monitor and improve their learning skills; describes how they can be integrated with different course components and on various schedules; and elucidates how to intentionally and seamlessly incorporate them into course design to effectively meet disciplinary and student development objectives."

Nilson, Linda B. Teaching at its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Educators. Fourth Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016.

If you are looking for a textbook on how to teach university, Teaching at Its Best is my recommendation. Nilson frames every chapter with a review of the current literature. For example, she describes various theories of cognitive growth and motivation, and how knowing these can help you determine what will be most effective. Nearly every chapter provides numerous strategies and techniques. Part 1 helps you get ready to teach by pondering; part 2 explores the human factor of the classroom; part 3 is dedicated to "tried-and-true teaching methods;" part 4 will increase your familiarity with a range of problem-based approaches to teaching; prat 5 reminds us of the importance of metacognition and helping students develop; part 6 shares best practices for assessment and grading. So if you do not have time to read all of Nilson's books, read this.

Nilson, Linda B. Specifications Grading: Restoring Rigor, Motivating. Students, and Saving Time. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2015.

Nilson "argues that the grading system most commonly in use now is unwieldy, imprecise and unnecessarily complex, involving too many rating levels for too many individual assignments and tests, and based on a hairsplitting point structure that obsures the underlying criteria and encourages students to challenge their grades." After making this case, Nilson advocates Specifications grading that "empower students to choose the level of attainment they want" without sacrificing rigor. While I have struggled to ponder applications for my teaching, it's worth exploring and Nilson shares examples of faculty making good use of it.

Nilson, Linda, and Ludwika A. Goodson. Online Teaching at its Best: Merging Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2018.

Novak, Gregor M. Just-in-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1999.

Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) creates a feedback loop by using web-based learning and testing. Students complete WarmUps and Puzzles online as first contact with the content, they then take tests, and the faculty examine the results before the face-to-face meeting. In class, the instructor can adapt the lessons to the results and focus on active learning. This strategy is popular in the STEM disciplines. Novak's publication was groundbreaking.

Robison, Susan. The Peak Performing Professor: A Practical Guide to Productivity and Happiness. San Francisco, California: John Wiely and Sons, 2013.

How do you avoid burnout? How do you create a satisfying work-life balance? How do you juggle teaching, scholarship, and service? Susan Robison "drawing on research of neuroscience, faculty development, work productivity, positive psychology, and resilience," offers step-by-step strategies to help you define a meaningful purpose and align your activities to that purpose that you will find useful and perhaps energizing.

Silberman, Mel. Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1996.

Silberman has many ideas but some may strike you as quaint given the age of the book. You will be better served to make use of the Barkley, et al handbooks on Collaborative Learning Techniques and Student Engagement Techniques.

Simkins, Scott, and Mark H. Maier, eds. Just-in-Time Teaching: Across the Disciplines, Across the Academy. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus, 2010.

Great to consult for case studies of how JiTT (Just-in-time-Teaching) has been applied to a number of disciplines.

Sommers, Nancy. Responding to Student Writers. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.

Though Sommers primary audience are English composition teachers, this short volume offers many useful insights and tips on best practices for meaningful, time-efficient feedback on student writing. Bottom line: do not become their copy editors!

Stevens, Danelle, and Antonia Levi. Introduction to Rubrics: As Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback, and Promote Student Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2006.

This small volume offers comprehensive guidelines on why rubrics are useful, how to develop them, and how to use them effectively. If you are skeptical about using rubrics, Stevens and Levi offer several persuasive reasons to adopt rubrics, but the most is their potential to level the playing field if the rubrics are well-crafted. If every student understands expectations, which are often unstated, underprepared students have equal access to the criteria of good work.

Suskie, Linda. Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.

If you feel compelled to read up on outcomes assessment, Suskie is quite useful. It is now in a third edition published in 2018.

Tagg, John. The Learning Paradigm College. San Francisco, CA: Anker Publishing, 2003.

Tolman, Anton, and Janine Kremling, eds. Why Students Resist Learning: A Practical Model for Understanding and Helping Students. Foreword John Tagg. Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2017.

Focus on the subtitle. Tolman, Kremling, and a group of students explored the psychology behind why students resist learning. The explanations can be rooted in a variety of factors, some of which may date back to childhood experiences, stereotype threat, cognitive/emotional development of students, poor teaching, teacher misbehaviors, classmate misbehaviors, environmental factors, etc. Resistance might be active or passive, and every student is unique, yet it is possible for faculty to recognize some potential causes and respond accordingly.

Walvoord, Barbara E. Assessment Clear and Simple: A Practical Guide for Institutions, Departments, and General Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.

In addition to Linda Suskie, this might be the other outcomes assessment book worth exploring if you are drawn to the subject or your program needs to understand and develop outcomes assessment measures.

Walvoord, Barbara E., and Virginia Johnson Anderson. Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment in College. San Francisco: Wiley, 2010.

If you need help pondering how to grade, Walvoord and Anderson are worth reading. From the publisher: "Authors Barbara E. Walvoord and Virginia Johnson Anderson explain that grades are not isolated artifacts but part of a process that, when integrated with course objectives, provides rich information about student learning, as well as being a tool for learning itself. The authors show how the grading process can be used for broader assessment objectives, such as curriculum and institutional assessment."

Ward, Lee, Michael J. Siegel, and Zebulun Davenport. First Generation College Students: Understanding and Improving the Experience from Recruitment to Commencement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

The intended audience are academic leaders and student affairs, but I found this book offered useful insight on the challenges that first-generation students face, who often are at a disadvantage at universities. They may lack role models or develop an impostor syndrome and may not know how to ask for help or who to ask. A related topic includes under-prepared students and Kathleen Gabriel is a useful read.

Weimer, Maryellen. Inspired College Teaching: A Career-Long Resource for Professional Growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010.

Thoughtful reflection and guidance on how faculty should develop the practice of reflection. Weimer explores how faculty can reflect and change in their early-, middle-, and late careers.

Weimer, Maryellen. Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002, 2013..

Weimer explains the concept and research behind learner-centered teaching. She then explores five key changes to our practice that include: "The Role of the Teacher; The Balance of Power; The Function of Content; The Responsibility for Learning; and The Purpose and Processes of Evaluation." She also addresses potential student resistance and outlines how to implement.

Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Second Edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.

Wiggins and McTighe introduce K-12 teachers to Backward Design, and I would recommend this book to teachers in higher education. This was my first encounter with the concept, and I found it mind-blowing. Why? They argue that we should not "cover" content, but teach it for learning. They compel readers to articulate why they teach, that is we must be able to always respond to the question: "teacher why do I have to learn this?" If we begin with big questions that make content relevant and meaningful to our students years later, we can more clearly determine what kinds of assignments will get students to address the big questions, then determine how to teach. In history, perhaps a big question that could drive a year-long course: what is the power of individual agency? Not surprising, the book also advocates active learning strategies.

Zull, James. The Art of Changing the Brain: Eniriching the . Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2002.

So, this is not specific to teaching history, yet it is crucial that we understand how we learn. In this groundbreaking work, Zull explains in laypersons terms what occurs to our brain when we learn, that intrinsic motivation is key, that testing must be formative, and how teachers can use the psychology of learning to make teaching choices. See also Peter Brown, et al. Make It Stick