Book Reviews

Book by Barbara Gross Davis
Review by Stephanie M. Foote, Ph.D.
Academic Success Center
University of South Carolina Aiken

Organized into concise chapters that provide strategies and insight into virtually every aspect of course planning and delivery, Tools for Teaching (2nd Ed.) is a useful resource for any advisor. The first edition of the book was published in 1993, and in the new edition Barbara Gross Davis has added chapters on teaching large enrollment courses and new technologies to supplement classroom instruction. 

One of the strongest features of Tools for Teaching is the logical organization of information. The 57 chapters in the book are grouped into 12 parts (or sections) that address the fundamental aspects of course planning; instructional techniques/pedagogies, as well as information about Web 2.0 and podcasting; evaluation of students and of teaching; and working with students outside of the classroom, including a chapter on advising and mentoring students. Although brief, each chapter includes myriad references to seminal and contemporary articles and books. The chapters and parts flow logically from one topic to another, but the author encourages readers to consider Tools for Teaching as a reference book. In the book’s preface, she invites readers to move from section to section to glean the information that is most useful to them – based on their own experience teaching.

Tools for Teaching is an important reference for advisors, both in and out of the classroom. In addition to examples of various new technologies or opportunities for “mobile learning” (pp. 298-301), advisors may also find chapters like “Motivating Students” (Chapter 31), with ideas to encourage students using feedback (p. 282), useful in any advising setting. Even strategies that involve getting and using student feedback, as well as suggestions for writing student letters of recommendation, can be useful to virtually all advisors. New advisors may also find the chapter on advising and mentoring students a good beginning point for their work in this area.

The only potential weakness of Tools for Teaching is the brevity of the book’s chapters, which sometimes leave the reader wanting more information on a particular topic. Readers who are concerned about the breadth and depth of information included in Tools for Teaching can further explore topics introduced in the book by seeking out the articles and resources referenced in each chapter. 

For all of these reasons and more, all advisors should consider adding this edition of Tools for Teaching to their reference library.

Tools for Teaching (2nd Ed.). (2009). Book by Barbara Gross Davis. Review by Stephanie M. Foote. San Francisco,CA: Jossey-Bass, 608 pp. $50.00. ISBN # 978-0-7879-6567-9

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