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Reviewed by:
  • Tools for Teaching, 2nd edition
  • Karen Haley
Tools for Teaching, 2nd edition. Barbara Gross Davis. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2009, 592 pages, $50.00 (softcover)

The second edition of Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis is a great resource for college instructors at all levels. The new edition includes 61 chapters grouped into 12 sections that roughly correspond to the process of course development, enactment, and assessment. There are 12 new chapters that reflect the changes in higher education classrooms since the first edition was printed over 15 years ago, but the new edition is more than just new chapters, it is a complete revision. Incorporated into all chapters are the concepts of Universal Design, the use of technology in the classroom, and closer attention to learning outcomes and student learning.

While technology is a key component of the revision, the book is written for instructors who teach primarily face-to-face and are self-directed. It is a sourcebook rather than a collection of essays to sit and read. You can pick up the book, pick a chapter from the table of contents, and jump right in. While some material seems to suit new instructors, there are always tips that can help the experienced instructor—maybe something that has been forgotten or deals with a new technology. The chapters are short and the layout provides easy access to information. The process and strategy suggestions are bolded and supported with narrative and bulleted lists, and each chapter includes updated additional resources.

Part I, Getting Under Way, details the process of designing a course, creating a syllabus, and planning the first day of class. While the topics may seem self-evident to seasoned instructors, there are excellent reminders, such as the connection between learning outcomes and course materials and activities. The final chapter in this section addresses the timely issue of teaching during times of campus crisis or tragedy.

Part II, Responding to a Changing Student Body, addresses attitudes and pedagogical considerations for including all students in the learning process—based on race, ethnicity, sexual identity, physical abilities, and reentry and transfer students (including veterans). The concept of Universal Design is particularly relevant as instructors create course materials to reach all students.

Part III, Discussion Strategies, includes chapters on leading discussion, encouraging participation, asking questions, promoting critical thinking, and answering student questions. A lot of ideas are packed into these chapters, a reminder that we may get into a rut and forget to expand or revise our own toolkits of teaching.

Part IV, Large Enrollment Courses, is particularly important for undergraduate instructors in large general education courses. The lecture, as a teaching technique, has been criticized; however, a large number of our undergraduate general education courses are lecture based, with large enrollments. [End Page 111] Davis outlines the strengths and limitations of lectures but also provides techniques and strategies to engage students. Creating a community in a large class has similar benefits as with a small class and many of the same small group techniques can be used for any class size.

Part V, Alternatives and Supplements to Lectures and Discussions, provides a variety of topics that reflect the changes in technology and how students learn. Role playing has taken on new meanings through the use of virtual worlds, so the question is posed on how we can use technology to further student learning. Several chapters address group learning and group activities as well as case studies and undergraduate research. Finally, the section includes a great introduction to integrating service learning and civic engagement into the classroom and connecting activities to course goals and learning outcomes.

Part VI, Enhancing Students’ Learning and Motivation, addresses a growing understanding of individual learning styles and how they may influence a student’s motivation to complete course assignments. A new chapter looks at the use of mobile devices (e.g., laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras, iPods) as learning tools to enhance student learning.

Part VII, Strengthening Students’ Writing and Problem Solving Skills, presents ideas to improve student work through the design of effective writing assignments and homework. Writing across the curriculum is an underlying priority in this chapter, meaning that every course...


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pp. 111-112
Launched on MUSE
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