Recommended Reading

DCAL Lending Library

DCAL maintains a comprehensive collection of books and resources on teaching and learning that are available to borrow from our shelves in our office suite, Baker 102. Stop by during regular business hours to check something out!

Recommended Books

How Learning Works

Ambrose S.A. et al. (2010). How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

“Drawing upon new research in psychology, education, and cognitive science, the authors have demystified a complex topic into clear explanations of seven powerful learning principles. Full of great ideas and practical suggestions, all based on solid research evidence, this book is essential reading for instructors at all levels who wish to improve their students’ learning,” says Barbara Gross Davis of the University of California, Berkeley.

On Course

Lang, J. (2008).On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to your First Semester of College Teaching. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

This book, ideal for new and future faculty, presents research-based advice on teaching and teaching strategies that are both effective and manageable to implement. Find answers to many of the questions you have about college teaching.

Teaching Tips

McKeachie, W.J. and Svinicki, M. (2006). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers.  Twelfth Edition.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

“If you have room for only one pedagogical book on your shelf, it ought to be Wilbert McKeachie’s Teaching Tips,” says Bill McAllister of the University of Virginia. This book is perhaps the most valuable and easy-to-consult resource on teaching.

What the Best College Teachers Do

Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

One of the most lively, humorous, touching and helpful books on college teaching ever published. Ken Bain draws from years of experience directing the Center for Teaching Excellence at NYU and other teaching centers. He has a very broad and deep understanding of what the best teachers do.

Teaching American Students

Sarkisian, E. (2005). Teaching American Students: A Guide for International Faculty and Teaching Assistants in Colleges and Universities. Third Edition. Cambridge, MA: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.

This sensibly and sensitively revised book is a must for teachers unfamiliar with higher education in North American colleges and universities. It takes full account of the need for American students to develop better learning skills and a stronger sense of inclusiveness even as it advises international faculty on how to establish healthy environments for learning and how to avoid or de-fuse difficult situations.

Science Teaching Reconsidered

National Research Council. (1997). Science Teaching Reconsidered: A Handbook. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Produced by the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education of the National Research Council, this is a handbook that surveys productive methods for effective teaching in science courses. 

The Chicago Handbook for Teachers

Brinkley, A. et al. (1999). The Chicago Handbook for Teachers: A Practical Guide to the College Classroom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lots of good practical advice, especially for new teachers and teachers in the first five years of their careers.

Our Underachieving Colleges

Bok, D. (2006). Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should be Learning More. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

President Derek Bok of Harvard University weighs in with some seasoned wisdom on the debate about teaching and learning in American higher education. He responds with balance and real information to the assaults launched by William Bennet, Lynne Chaney, Dinesh D'Souza, Charles Sykes and Allan Bloom.

To see other recommended books on college teaching, see this list compiled by the POD Network. Please contact DCAL with suggestions of other good books on teaching.


Essays on Teaching Excellence are succinct scholarly essays published by the POD Network from 1989-2011. The essays are free of charge and available to the public, and present innovative viewpoints on college and university instruction. Written in concise and non-technical language, and supported by research, they seek to assist instructors in reflecting upon and refining their practice of teaching to achieve the results they seek: students learning to the best of their abilities.