Exemplary College Science Teaching
by Robert E. Yager

Price at time of review: $29.95
243 pp.
NSTA Press
Arlington, VA
ISBN: 9781938946097

Grade Level: College

Reviewed by Eloise Farmer
science consultant

The main method used for college and university instruction has traditionally been lecture to large groups of students at once in a lecture hall, and longer laboratory sessions held in a different room or even in a different building. Often there has been little connection between the lecture and lab work. This may be undergoing profound changes as Colleges attempt to appeal to a broader range of student learning styles.

There has been a great deal of discussion recently about whether the kinds of instruction promoted in many high schools lead to student success in a college setting where instruction is still mainly done through lecture. It is thought that because students are exposed to so many varied kinds of instruction in high schools that they sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to the passive lecture instruction still prevalent in many college classrooms. Since lecture is now used much less in high schools to teach science, college instructors are realizing that many of their students are no longer conditioned to learn and apply content in science when taught only by lecture. As a result, they are now attempting to reach their students by such means as study groups, formative assessment, think–pair–share, cooperative learning groups, jigsaw, inquiry, community projects, and distance learning.

In this book, these techniques are described in a collection of 16 monographs written by college instructors describing how they have modified the usual lecture method, and providing documentation of the success of their efforts. The tone is set for the book by a preface by Dr. Brian Shmaekfsky and a foreword by Robert E. Yager. Each of the following sixteen chapters describes an exemplary innovation conducted by a college instructor that involves practices that vary from the lecture format. Data is given to validate the success of the practice used by the instructor. Many of these forms of instruction are familiar to K–12 teachers who have long been encouraged to use a variety of instructional methods to engage their students in learning, and who have been directed to avoid straight lecture as a means of instruction.

The book closes with an end word by Yager entitled “Exemplary College Science Teaching: Helping or Hindering STEM Reforms?” a list of contributors, and an index. Where college leadership demands change, this book could be a valuable resource for college instructors looking for ways and means of better meeting the needs of their students.The enthusiasm of the writers for the methods they are using is evident throughout the writing, and the data documenting their success is convincing.

Review posted on 9/10/2013

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