Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters!
Fostering Student Success Through Faculty-Centered Practice Improvement

Foreword by Rosemary Arca
Paper: 978 1 62036 080 4 / $29.95
Published: May 2015  

Cloth: 978 1 62036 079 8 / $95.00
Published: June 2015  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 081 1 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: May 2015  

E-Book: 978 1 62036 082 8 / $23.99
Published: May 2015  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
140 pp., 6" x 9"
figures & tables
“College teaching is not rocket science – it’s much, much harder.” Diana Laurillard, University of London

College faculty, both adjunct and full-time, stand with their students at the coalface of learning, wishing for more to succeed and disappointed at how illusory academic success is for so many. Among the array of investments colleges are making to improve student outcomes, from predictive data analysis to enhanced advising, too little attention is paid to supporting faculty. Yet the impact of teacher and teaching on student learning is incontrovertible. Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters! stands against the tide – celebrating the incredible work faculty members do each day and challenging them to expand their capacity to present their content expertise effectively.

This book presents a model of embedded professional development, which capitalizes on the affordances of technology to enable groups of faculty to examine their practice in a non-evaluative context, but with a clear focus on improvement. The core of the work involves individual reflection and the design provides for an accessible way to “see” into the classrooms of discipline peers. Most importantly, the Taking College Teaching Seriously experience is not an intense one-shot, but rather a structured opportunity for a faculty member to examine and adapt practice over time and to assess the impact of changes on student learning.

Faculty who have participated in the Taking College Teaching Seriously experience found it to be transformative:

• English Professor, Kentucky: Participating in (the work) this year has helped me to be more reflective in every single action. I constantly analyze how each session went… (it) gave me the tools to think about every minute detail of a classroom.

• Adjunct Math Professor, Mississippi: Speaking as an adjunct, I have valued the chance to share my teaching and get ideas from others. I can honestly say that this experience has been a lifeline of sorts this year. In a “magic wand” instructional setting, I’d wish for the kind of honest, respectful and professionally challenging discussions we have in Classroom Notebook* at weekly staff meetings.
*Classroom Notebook is the Taking College Teaching Seriously online platform

• Math Professor, NJ: I think the continual self-evaluation and reflection allowed us to work together to brainstorm improvements and positive tweaks to be more purposeful in our classrooms as opposed to just randomly reaching in the dark for ideas and techniques in HOPE of success.

Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters! breaks new ground in professional development. Each faculty member is at the center of the learning experience, stimulated and supported by peers working in similar contexts. They share a desire to see more students learn deeply and find that honing their skill at adapting to the learning needs of specific classes and students allows them to realize this goal. Uniquely, Taking College Teaching Seriously illuminates the link between faculty teaching expertise and improving student outcomes.

The introduction to the book examines the challenges facing faculty in higher education today and reviews the literature on teaching and learning. Chapter 1 looks at the analytical foundations for all of the model’s elements, from adult learning theory to communities of practice, and Chapter 2 presents the model’s theory of change. Chapter 3 describes the model in detail and Chapters 4 and 5 concern the infrastructure of the faculty collaborative community, focusing on both its interpersonal and technological dimensions. The book concludes in Chapter 6 with an assessment of the value of this approach to professional development and a call to action for faculty member engagement in this important work, so essential to both professional passion and mandate.

Table of Contents:



Scope of the Book

Introduction: Pedagogy and American Higher Education

1) The Contours of Practice Improvement

2) Theory of Change

3) Pedagogy Matters Tools and Routines

4) Scaffolding the Community 1: Coaching and Sharing

5) Scaffolding the Community 2: Norms and Infrastructure

6) Taking College Teaching Seriously: A Call to Action




Reviews & Endorsements:
“The value of this book for faculty lies in its accessibility and in its applicability: any faculty member, or group of faculty members of the same institution or across institutions, can easily replicate one or more of the processes described and explained in this book and so heighten their potential for acquiring some of the lessons learned.”
- Reflective Teaching (Wabash Center)
“The focus of this book on teaching in community college settings is particularly important given the expectations of student learning outcomes in today’s 2-year institutions and the number of students at these colleges enrolled in developmental education courses. The authors of the book concentrate on the need to provide ‘professional development of all faculty who teach the hardest to serve’. The focus on developmental course instructors offers strategies that can translate to other programs in community colleges. Their attention to faculty development builds on what the authors identify as the role of reflecting on teaching practices and on building competencies in faculty members regarding good classroom pedagogy.

A strength of the book is that it focuses attention on improving classroom teaching by using reflective practice and SoTL techniques, all situated in a collaborative learning environment created within a community of practice. Borrowing from this strategy, individual campuses or colleges in a system could replicate this type of faculty development.

Because it is rare to find a volume that focuses on pedagogy in higher education contexts, particularly at the community college level, I would recommend this book to those new to community college teaching or academic leadership, to faculty development directors at 2-year colleges, and to those overseeing developmental math and English programs. The passion of the authors for improving teaching is evident, and the early successes of the model hold promise for the future.”
- Community College Review