1st Edition

Thinking About Teaching and Learning Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students

By Robert Leamnson Copyright 1999

    Here is a compelling read for every teacher in higher education who wants to refresh or reexamine his or her classroom practice.Building on the insights offered by recent discoveries about the biological basis of learning, and on his own thought-provoking definitions of teaching, learning and education, the author proceeds to the practical details of instruction that teachers are most interested in--the things that make or break teaching.Practical and thoughtful, and based on forty years of teaching, wide reading and much reflection, Robert Leamnson provides teachers with a map to develop their own teaching philosophy, and effective nuts-and-bolts advice.His approach is particularly useful for those facing a cohort of first year students less prepared for college and university. He is concerned to develop in his students habits and skills that will equip them for a lifetime of learning. He is especially alert to the psychology of students. He also understands, and has experienced, the typical frustration and exasperation teachers feel when students ingeniously elude their teachers’ loftiest goals and strategies. Most important, he has good advice about how to cope with the challenge. This guide will appeal to college teachers in all disciplines.

    1. thinking about thinking about teaching How a philosophy of teaching develops and why it is important to have one 2. the biological basis of learning Learning as brain change, rather than brain use 3. language On the questionable utility of unexpressed ideas 4. today's first-year students Culture, motivation and preparation 5. teaching and pedagogy How the way we teach affects the way students learn 6. the classroom The classroom as dynamic arena—What students are really doing 7. writing and other technologies Technology, old, and new, and as a means to an end 8. final thoughts Reflections and ruminations


    Robert Leamnson was Professor of Biology and Director of Multidisciplinary Studies at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

    "The central message of Robert Leamnson's Thinking About Teaching and Learning is captured in the subtitle, Developing Habits of Learning with First Year College and University Students." The book is written in a clear accessible style... The book offers a useful, practical guide to issues surrounding teaching and learning drawing on a body of educational research."

    Citizenshp, Social and Economics Education

    "This well-written and easy-to-read book offers practical suggestions and insights into teaching first-year college students. Some academicians may disagree with the author's stance that part of teaching is getting students ready to learn. Teaching would be much easier if students arrived on the college campus with the learning skills necessary to cope with academic rigor, but that is not the reality experienced by many of us who have taught first-year students. While the author places the responsibility on the professor for providing activities that have the potential for facilitating learning (i.e., teaching), he places the burden for making mental changes (i.e., learning) on the student."

    AAHE Bulletin

    "Fascinating, compelling, sensible and provocative. It has set me thinking—hard—about how I go about my job."

    Mark Wasserman, Professor of History

    Rutgers University

    "His zeal for the value of authentic knowledge, his love for his vocation as college teacher, and his deep affection for students shine through his writing."

    Brian Wilkie, Professor of English

    University of Arkansas

    Thinking About Teaching and Learning is a gem. Bob Leamnson has done solid homework on the topic of teaching, and his practical, positive insights in this book are simply great."

    Ed Nuhfer, Director, Teaching Effectiveness & Faculty Development

    University of Colorado at Denver

    "Leamnson's book is an excellent mix of theory and practice. He explains what works, why it works, and how faculty can use his ideas from the first day of class on. An excellent guide to narrow the gap between expectations and performance in the college classroom."

    Tom Edwards, Associate Academic Dean

    Castleton State College, Vermont

    "Here at Ball State, we conducted a week-long Core Curriculum Institute with 54 faculty members who teach core (i.e. general education) classes. Each participant was provided with a copy of Thinking about Teaching and Learning. I wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I appreciated your book. Anyone who reads it has to seriously reexamine how he/she teaches, even courses for students beyond freshman year. As a professor who attempts to engage students in a variety of ways, your insights were extremely valuable. Thank you for providing the distinction between taking notes, and making notes. I have intuitively resisted the temptation to provide detailed handouts, but could never adequately explain my reluctance. Your explanation helps me tremendously. I just thought you might like to know how your text was used here this summer."

    Dom Caristi, Associate Professor, Dept. of Telecommunication

    Ball State University

    "We have been using Thinking About Teaching and Learning at BYU in connection with a large-scale freshman year initiative. The program, consisting basically of multiple learning communities, involves some 22 academic departments and 120 faculty members who serve 1750 freshmen (about 40% of BYU's entering freshman class) each fall semester. We are providing a copy of this book for each faculty member, as well as for several academic support and university administration officers. The ideas, practices and recommendations are first-rate; we appreciate (the) work in putting the volume together. (It is) particularly good, in my judgment, in helping faculty distinguish between the game syndrome and genuinely mindful learning."

    Clark Webb

    Brigham Young University

    "While this book is essentially a study of pedagogy, it is not in the least dry or intimidating. It flows wonderfully and is written with humor and compassion…This book is highly recommended for experts and novices alike. It has practical ideas for classroom techniques, balanced by thoughtful, well-researched ideas about the nature of teaching. For anyone who teaches in a classroom, this is a quick and enlightening read."

    Nursing Education Perspectives

    "This book is for teachers of first-year students. Although many of its themes are standard, it is well worth reading for its wisdom, unusual perspective, and refreshing style. These qualities reflect the author's personality and his background as a biologist and a very experienced teacher at both secondary and tertiary levels. A strong appeal is the author's delightful style, and his memorable imagery and anecdotes. I recommend this thought-provoking and enjoyable book to anyone involved in teaching first-year students."

    Educational Developments