Back to School Reading List

All over the northern hemisphere, instructors and students are headed back to school in the middle of a COVID pandemic. These are strange times and I find myself turning to the words of wisdom of various published authors as I work through how to make sense of our moment in time. I’m taking the liberty of sharing my fall 2020 reading list with you, in hopes that there will be a title that provides insight into your teaching and learning quandaries this fall.

General Advice

The Peak Performing Professor: A Practical Guide to Productivity, by Susan Robison

“Drawing on research from the fields of neuroscience, faculty development, work productivity, positive psychology, and resilience, The Peak Performing Professor is filled with techniques, strategies, and practical tools for managing the complexities of academic life while maximizing professional potential.”

Agile Faculty: Practical Strategies for Managing Research, Service, and Teaching, by Rebecca Pope-Ruark

“Digital tools have long been a transformative part of academia, enhancing the classroom and changing the way we teach. Yet there is a way that academia may be able to benefit more from the digital revolution: by adopting the project management techniques used by software developers.”

Advice Tailored to New Faculty

Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil Nimus, by Robert Boice

Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil Nimus is a unique and essential guide to the start of a successful academic career. As its title suggests (nothing in excess), it advocates moderation in ways of working, based on the single-most reliable difference between new faculty who thrive and those who struggle. By following its practical, easy-to-use rules, novice faculty can learn to teach with the highest levels of student approval, involvement, and comprehension, with only modest preparation times and a greater reliance on spontaneity and student participation.”

New Faculty: A Practical Guide for Academic Beginners 3rd ed, by Christopher J. Lucas & John W. Murry, Jr.

“A useful compendium of ‘survival’ advice for the faculty newcomer on a variety of subjects: practical tips on classroom teaching, student performance evaluation, detailed advice on grant-writing, student advising, professional service, and publishing.”

Writing Advice

Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics, by Joli Jensen

“With growing academic responsibilities, family commitments, and inboxes, scholars are struggling to fulfill their writing goals. A finished book—or even steady journal articles—may seem like an impossible dream. But, as Joli Jensen proves, it really is possible to write happily and productively in academe.”

Becoming an Academic Writer: 50 Exercises for Paced, Productive, and Powerful Writing, by Patricia Goodson

“With its friendly, step-by-step format, Becoming an Academic Writer by Patricia Goodson helps writers improve their writing by engaging in deep and deliberate practice—a type of practice adopted by expert performers in areas such as sports or music. Featuring 50 exercises, this practical, self-paced guide is flexibly organized so readers can either work their way through all of the exercises in order or focus on the specific areas where they need additional practice building their skills.”

Teaching Advice

Creating Wicked Students: Designing Courses for a Complex World, by Paul Hanstedt

“In Creating Wicked Students, Paul Hanstedt argues that courses can and should be designed to present students with what are known as ‘wicked problems’ because the skills of dealing with such knotty problems are what will best prepare them for life after college. As the author puts it, ‘this book begins with the assumption that what we all want for our students is that they be capable of changing the world….When a student leaves college, we want them to enter the world not as drones participating mindlessly in activities to which they’ve been appointed, but as thinking, deliberative beings who add something to society.'”

How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories behind Effective College Teaching, by Joshua R. Eyler

“Even on good days, teaching is a challenging profession. One way to make the job of college instructors easier, however, is to know more about the ways students learn. How Humans Learn aims to do just that by peering behind the curtain and surveying research in fields as diverse as developmental psychology, anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience for insight into the science behind learning.”

Service Advice

The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance, by Steven G. Rogelberg

“A recent estimate suggests that employees endure a staggering 55 million meetings a day in the United States. This tremendous time investment yields only modest returns. No organization made up of human beings is immune from the all-too-common meeting gripes: those that fail to engage, those that inadvertently encourage participants to tune out, and those that blatantly disregard participants’ time. Most companies and leaders view poor meetings as an inevitable cost of doing business. But managers can take heart: researchers now have a clear understanding of the key drivers that make meetings successful. In The Surprising Science of Meetings, Steven G. Rogelberg, researcher and consultant to some of the world’s most successful companies, draws from extensive research, analytics and data mining, and survey interviews with over 5,000 employees across a range of industries to share the proven practices and techniques that help managers and employees enhance the quality of their meetings. For those who lead and participate in meetings, Rogelberg provides immediate direction, guidance, and relief, offering a how-to guide to change your working life starting today.”

 

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