Monday, June 11, 2018

Differentiated Coaching

The specific audience for the new book Differentiated Coaching by Jane. A. G. Kise is those who coach primary through high school teachers to deal with change. Kise’s approach, however, can be applied to higher education as well as other professions. Her model will also prove helpful with facilitating student learning. The main premise of the book is that resistance to change occurs when people’s needs are not being met. Kise uses the model of Jungian personality types as framed in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to provide an understanding of people’s differing needs and how to handle those differences. Kise provides numerous charts to aid the reader in understanding and applying the differentiated coaching process. This is a worthwhile read for all educators. Those in other professions who facilitate change processes and provide coaching will also benefit from Kise’s approach.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Documenting Learning

A Guide to Documenting Learning by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Janet A. Hale is a detailed, in-depth guide to how to document learning for learners of any age. The majority of examples cited in the book focus on primary school students and teachers, but this is a manual that will prove useful to teachers of any grade level, higher education faculty, trainers, and self-directed learners. The authors describe various processes and tools for making learning visible and provide instruction on how to share that learning with local and global networks. QR codes throughout the book take the reader to additional resources and examples. More careful proofreading was needed, but the typos are not frequent enough to frustrate the reader. This is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to track, assess, and share their own learning or the learning of others.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

When Grit Isn't Enough

Linda Nathan has written a thoughtful book about the current state of education in America entitled When Grit Isn't Enough. During her tenure as founding headmaster of the Boston Arts Academy, Nathan was a vocal proponent of college for all high school graduates. She began to question her original stance as she interviewed BAA alumni and learned of their experiences after high school. In this book Nathan reflects upon five assumptions that drive the college-for-all promise—money need not be an obstacle, race doesn’t matter, all one need do is work harder, everyone can go to college, and dreams will come true if one believes hard enough. She profiles the experiences of BAA graduates, which caused her to question the assumptions she operated under as an educator. Her reflections highlight the obstacles that poverty and systemic racism create for young people striving to continue their education beyond secondary school. Nathan does not let herself off the hook. Though her intentions were good, she now recognizes that some of her views were uninformed. The voices of the young people that come through the book give the reader a firsthand account of how the American educational system is often rigged against people of color or in poverty. Nathan does not offer a panacea for correcting the injustices of the system. She does make carefully considered recommendations. She recognizes that there are no easy answers. However, she confidently proclaims the need for change. Anyone with a stake in the American educational system, which should be all Americans, will benefit from reading this thoughtful and compassionate volume.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Improving Quality in American Higher Education

Improving Quality in American Higher Education edited by Richard Arum, Josipa Roksa, and Amanda Cook is a collection of white papers produced by mostly faculty as part of the Measuring College Learning project. Each chapter focuses on one of six academic disciplines—history, economics, sociology, communication, biology, and business. The authors of each chapter suggest the concepts and competencies undergraduates should learn within each discipline and include suggested learning outcomes. The clear identification of concepts and competencies is the strength of this book. Such information can be used by faculty in designing individual courses and entire curricula. The book’s last chapter includes perspectives from thought leaders on assessment. As they point out, the Measuring College Learning project has so far produced recommendations of what students should know but has not yet explained in detail how to measure students’ learning. The chapters’ authors do provide a review of current measurement tools and point out gaps in those instruments. Those involved with the project recognize much work remains to be done. In the meantime, they have produced a useful outline of what students should gain from a 21st century college education.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Undergraduate Experience

Many recent books have chronicled the shortcomings of colleges and universities and have predicted the demise of the current higher education system in America. The Undergraduate Experience by Peter Felten and his four co-authors is not one of those books. Instead, the authors focus on what is going well at American colleges and universities. They provide numerous examples of effective educational practices and hold up those examples as ones to be emulated. The authors identify six categories that matter to providing an effective college education. Administration, faculty, staff, and students are to focus on learning, relationships, expectations, alignment, improvement, and leadership. Specific action principles are outlined for each of the six categories and explanations and examples provided for each action. This is a hopeful book. The authors are not interested in criticizing higher education but in making it better. For those interested in doing the same, this book will provide inspiration and guidance.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Discussion Book

Educators will be interested in The Discussion Book by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill. The authors provide easy-to-follow instructions to fifty exercises designed to promote discussion in small and large groups. The directions for each technique describe the method’s purpose, how to do it, where and when to use it, what participants appreciate about the exercise, possible pitfalls, and the type of questions for which the technique is best suited. There are techniques to initiate discussions in new groups, promote good questioning, foster active listening, conduct discussions without talking, draw people out of their comfort zone, democratize participation, build group cohesion, facilitate decision making, carry on text-based discussions, and more. Anyone having to facilitate group discussions will find this a useful manual.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Small Teaching

Small Teaching by James Lang is filled with simple practices that can be inserted into existing course designs to improve student learning outcomes at the college level. There is no need for massive course redesign to implement Lang’s tested recommendations. He has purposely focused on actions that can be implemented tomorrow. All his practices are based on research. Chapters include the theories, practices, and principles needed to address the means to enhance student knowledge, understanding, motivation, growth, and more. This is a practical resource that faculty will refer to often as they strive to further the learning of their students.