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Reflective Teaching

Writing about teaching theology and religion

Book Review

 An Evidence-based Guide to College and University Teaching: Developing the Model Teacher
Aaron S. Richmond, Guy A. Boysen, Regan A.R. Gurung
New York, NY: Routledge, 2016 (xviii + 210 pages, ISBN 978-1-138-91525-1, $44.95)

Richmond, Boysen, and Gurung’s work provides a much-needed resource for new teachers and is valuable to experienced teachers as well. The text is both concise and comprehensive concerning the current state of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). The authors are psychologists who include their disciplinary insights, as well as provide important examples and resources from disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Chapters one and two set up the context of the “model teacher.” Rather than providing an essentialist answer to the definition of the model teacher, the authors focus on behaviors that produce consistent ideal results in the classroom.
Chapters three through five – focused on teacher training, instructional methods, and student learning respectively – are useful to new teachers. As a text for initiating teachers, these chapters provide a reliable systematic introduction to key ways in which teachers interact with students in the classroom. These chapters should be complemented with discipline-specific examples or readings in graduate school teaching programs.

Chapters six and seven on assessment of student learning and syllabus construction are the most valuable to teachers at any stage in their career. The insights into the scholarship on assessment is invaluable for the development of class, departmental, and university-wide curriculum. These two chapters are the most practical chapters for reconsidering the significance and purpose of teaching strategies and assignments.

Finally, chapter eight examines student evaluations. There are many important insights in this chapter for new teachers on how to engage meaningfully with student summative evaluations. One point of interest was the authors’ statement on the significance of student satisfaction with a course. The authors could have included a lengthier conversation on how to meaningfully address the question of student satisfaction.
In the end, “evidence-based” means that one organizes the multiple resources we employ in higher education in a way that substantiates the claims we wish to make. This text provides concrete advice that is useful for the novice; it is also a helpful aid for anyone wishing to mentor others in the art of teaching.

An Evidence-based Guide to College and University Teaching
employs an engaging hypothetical dialogue with the reader and an interactive approach. There are self-assessments at the beginning and end of each chapter along with hypothetical case studies for each chapter. An appendix at the end presents the uninterrupted self-assessment scale on sixty-four criteria for model teachers. These elements are excellent resources for group discussion in graduate seminars or faculty retreats.
This book presents an accessible synthesis of the SoTL literature. It is successful as a gateway resource to the dialogue from the last forty years on pedagogical best practices. The text is limited in terms of the depth that it covers given the myriad topics it addresses, but it provides a solid beginning to engage the conversation.

Gerardo Rodríguez-Galarza
Carroll College

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