Book By: Deborah A. Stewart
Review By: Karen L. Archambault-Crim
Division of Professional Education and Training
University of Maryland Baltimore County
In Effective Teaching: A Guide for Community College Instructors, Deborah Stewart and the Community College of Vermont provide a workbook that informs all who connect with the students in the two-year college setting. Stewart describes both the community college setting and the students most commonly found in such institutions. Community colleges respond to educational and workforce needs; thus most share a common mission, vision and values despite differences in location or environment. Stewart does an excellent job describing the diverse students drawn to the two-year college in terms of age, gender, race, ethnicity and socio-economic class. Those new to the community college would be well served reviewing these characteristics and comparing them to their institution’s unique character.
The primary goal of the text, however, is not to describe a setting but to assist the instructor. The bulk of the text focuses on skill building -- designing a syllabus, planning lessons, constructing a classroom community, and keeping students interested in the topics at hand – as well as on the basics of classroom instruction. Whether a first time instructor or a 20 year veteran, Stewart’s emphasis on developing writing skills and utilizing a variety of teaching methods are worthy of review. She is particularly adept at linking classroom instruction methods to the needs of community college students who, as a group, may be more likely to have concerns external to the institution than their university counterparts.
More than a textbook, Effective Teaching is a resource of ideas and guidelines. The appendix alone is worth a read as it provides syllabi, lesson plans and rubrics that demonstrate how to put ideas into action. For those entering a college classroom with extensive content knowledge but little formal training, this resource is invaluable.
While the resources are valuable, the text is not perfect. The text is best left to those who struggle to reach students rather than to those who have found success in the classroom. Those in the latter group may find themselves searching for their “a-ha” moment in Stewart’s work; the text can seem simplistic and the resources presented are often lost in suggestions that seem obvious. However, for those well-meaning but lost instructors, the text is a wonderful starter.
Despite these limitations, the reach of this text far surpasses its intentions. Though not intended for advisors – both in its title and its content — this text has an audience well beyond instruction. New professionals beginning a first position at the community college, those who are experienced but are struggling with the recent demographic changes, and those at the four year institution who work with transfer students will find this text quite beneficial.
Effective Teaching: A Guide for Community College Instructors
. (2003). Book by Stewart, Deborah A. Review by Karen L. Archambault-Crim. Washington, DC: Community College Press. 120 pp. Price $35.00. ISBN: 0-87117-364-6