on July 23, 2002
Although the title is certainly somewhat misleading, this is a good sourcebook of the best teaching techniques culled from a wide range of instructional situations. There is something here for everyone in every situation, elementary ed, high school, community college, and yes, those of us at universities too.
I can't imagine many educators who will not find something to improve their teaching effectiveness in this book. A great advantage is that each technique is presented individually so that you can literally pick and choose and then try them out without having to read extensively to understand the potential for each.
If you teach (this is my 25th year teaching college), I recommend two books once you have spent a few years at it and want to continue to improve your effectiveness....this one and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman's "Six Easy Pieces"
on October 17, 2001
The rating of 4 stars I'm giving this is a combination of 3 stars and 5 stars. Some of the techniques presented are worth the 5 stars; the lack of actual forms or examples as administered is the 3 stars. There are many examples of each technique, but all are given as narrative descriptions, not as copies of the assessment form or handout.
One thing potential buyers should be aware of: THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT GIVING TESTS. If you are looking for how to write tests, how to test your students, how to design exams, try James Popham or something similar. This is a book full of ways to survey your students to determine whether they are ready to learn, whether they are ready to absorb more information, whether they are understanding the material - but not tests.
Let me give you examples of the techniques I found immediately useful:
Technique #1: Background Knowledge Probe. This is to be given at the first class meeting, to see whether your students know what they're supposed to before they start your class. Here's how I administered it: I teach a course called "Quantitative Applications Software." It's mainly about using Microsoft Excel and related spreadsheets, and it's primarily for business majors to fill their core computer requirement. I prepared a survey form which had about 20 questions in all, with three columns to check off: "Know how to do this" (have studies it, remember it, can calculate it), "Have heard of this" (the concept is familiar but I don't remember how to figure it) and "Not familiar with this." The items to rate were divided into 3 categories: math knowledge (Square roots, exponents, order of operations); business concepts (compound interest, present value, mortgages, multi-state sales taxes) and Excel concepts - which is what the students would be learning, but some already know (built-in statistical functions, calculating loan payments, setting up invoicing systems, working with multiple files.) The students filled out this survey anonymously, so no one had to be embarrassed, and then after scanning the surveys, I announced that people who were unsure of the math concepts could get tutoring, people who knew all the Excel concepts might be able to test out of the course, and for everybody else, I would have an idea of how much time to spend explaining background math before introducing an Excel function.
Technique #25: Student-generated test questions. Students have to generate both questions and answers. This allows you to see what they think is the most important material they've studied so far, whether they've done only the homework or also studied handouts and their lecture notes, and whether they can organize their thinking. This one should be done only after you've already given the students at least one exam or a few quizzes, so that they know the length and difficulty of questions you expect.
On the other hand, many of the techniques are not very useful for my subject area - some are writing-intensive and don't fit in with a course that is mostly hands-on lab work; some require students to list pros and cons of something - not necessarily feasible in a course where there's a fixed minimum of material that MUST be covered, whether the students like it or not. More useful, I suspect, for classes where there are issues and current events and discussions, than for computer science basics.
on August 5, 2001
This book is a great explanation of and suggestions for evaluating teaching and learning primarily at the college level. In college, a professor or instructor may have hundreds of students unless you teach a very rare subject or at are a very small school. These fast and often fun exercises are a neat way to figure out how much your students are learning and how to teach better. They could also be used as graded tests but primarily the book was intended for pure assessment. Since students, over-booked with classes in the age of a flat-fee system, may resent too much gradeless assessment, you'll have to read the atmosphere of your own classes and decide how best to use this.
on March 21, 2001
I was lucky enough to be given this wonderful book. It is worth it's weight in gold. It is PACKED with ideas and instruction in the art of assessment (from testing to group response). It is a mammouth book, divided into clear sections with ready-to-use examples for each assessment technique explored. Keep this one by your side as you attempt to deduce if your students have "gotten it."
Works for ALL disciplines, including science and math. Try one new assessment technique a week and see what works for you. The book also helps you design your own. My highest recommendation.
Dr. Stefani Koorey, Valencia Community College
on February 23, 1999
This is a text every secondary and post-secondary teacher should review. Although the title indicates that it is most useful for college teachers, secondary teachers will also find excellent suggestions on how to evaluate their students' achievement, how to confirm learning, and how to build a formative evaluation plan for the content taught.