Books -- Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis

Article excerpt

Davis, Barbara Gross (1993). Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 429 pp. Paperback, $27.95.

Quiz time: Most instructors in mass communication and journalism learn to teach: (a) in graduate school, (b) in department workshops, (c) on the job, (d) in university training sessions.

The answer is (c): on the job. Few graduate programs offer formal training in how to teach. Neither do departments or universities. Most professors learn to teach after years of experience, although often with the help of colleagues.

It's too bad that as beginners they could not have had access to Tools for Teaching by Davis, assistant vice chancellor of educational development at the University of California, Berkeley. The book is a veritable encyclopedia of tips to help turn a novice into a veteran. Its advice equals years of hard knocks in the classroom.

For example, one tip would signal that the question leading this review is faulty: Be wary in multiple-choice questions of putting answers in the "c" position, which faculty tend to do.

Both new and experienced teachers can benefit from this book, which doesn't provide pat answers but instead offers a range of advice based on the work of experienced university professors as well as educational research.

The book comprises 49 tools organized into 12 sections that mirror the responsibilities of teaching: getting under way, responding to a diverse student body, discussion strategies, lecture strategies, collaborative and experiential strategies, enhancing students' learning and motivation, writing skills and homework assignments, testing and grading, instructional media and technology, evaluation to improve teaching, teaching outside the classroom, and finishing up.

Within each section are specific topics such as writing a course syllabus, asking questions, delivering a lecture, writing various kinds of exams, advising, and even using overhead projectors. …