College Teaching at Its Best: Inspiring Students to Be Enthusiastic, Lifelong Learners

This book is a practical guide for professors who are interested in being more effective teachers. It encompasses all the things a professor must do to prepare to teach; to stimulate learning and love of learning; to understand and engage all students; and to help them find direction, purpose, and mission in their lives. The book recognizes the importance of instructors, and how the best teachers focus on inspiring lifelong learning, both in themselves and in their students. Good teaching is rooted in good values, not the mastery of content alone. Caring, empathy, and compassion are important. The highest value of a teacher may often lie in the mentorship she can provide to her students. Discover how to convey passion and enthusiasm to students, and how to motivate your students to want to learn and participate. The book describes active learning approaches and how to make lectures more effective. It also recognizes the moral responsibility professors have to help the less talkative members of their class.The book deals with how to overcome the challenges of fostering learning in large classes where it is almost impossible for the instructor to get to know all the students. How to keep students alert and energized by adding variety to your classes through games, role-playing, humor, guest speakers, field trips, videos, and other devices. How to maintain enthusiasm and compassion all semester, and keep fatigue and negative thoughts at bay. How to handle email and office hours, how to provide feedback on work, and how to consider the whole student as you evaluate performance and foster success. This book is a useful guide as you chart your course through the challenges and rewards of college teaching.

Community Review

  • Chris Palmer’s new book is NOT for professors who are more interested in their next publication than the students in their classes. As with his previous book, Now What, Grad? Your Path to Success After College, Palmer’s writing is replete with great insights, disarming humor, and deep concern about college’s role in shaping meaningful, purposeful lives.
    Palmer wants college professors to nurture in their students a sense of responsibility to their peers and the learning process, and to develop an enduring set of civic values that will serve them well inside and outside the workplace. He wants students to be challenged, not intimidated. He wants them to be inspired, active learners.
    College Teaching is filled with practical tips about how to bring the classroom alive, and how to carry learning beyond the classroom. Palmer draws disarmingly on his own evolution as a college professor following a long career as one of America’s leading wildlife filmmakers. He also offers the first-hand reflections of fellow college teachers and other professionals who shed light on the best learning experiences of their lives.
    Read this book cover-to-cover, or browse at random for the gems that fill its pages. Either way, it is a delightful and inspiring read!
  • This is a fresh, substantive, richly rewarding handbook on college teaching that aims to make a difference, by a professor who came to the job after a successful career in film production. Chris Palmer has thought deeply and carefully about the complex role of the professor in today’s university and offers an inspiring philosophy of teaching that emphasizes caring and compassion as well as practical advice on subjects ranging from creating an effective syllabus and establishing a philosophy of grading to promoting active learning and encouraging quiet students. Palmer’s thinking and advice are clearly founded on his own experience in (and out of) the classroom, but every chapter also shows him to have read extensively in the scholarship about college teaching. This widely useful book is something of a collaborative project in another way, too: a final chapter brings together several dozen classroom-tested suggestions from experienced professors and graduate students in many disciplines on “how to excel.”

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