4 books that can improve your teaching

Educators recommend books that helped them in the classroom.
By Courtney Vien

Among the many resources mentioned at the 2018 American Accounting Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C., were various books on the craft of teaching and the science of learning. Here are just a few of the many worthwhile books mentioned by speakers and award winners at the meeting.

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

By Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel
Belknap, 2014

Recommended by Bob Allen, Ph.D., University of Utah, 2018 AAA Cook Prize Winner.

Much of what we think we know about learning is wrong, according to this book's authors: two cognitive scientists and a professional writer. They draw upon insights from cognitive psychology to demonstrate why such practices as cramming and re-reading don’t often lead to successful learning. They recommend, instead, techniques that cognitive psychology has shown to work, such as “interleaving” or alternating the study of different subjects rather than focusing on one at a time; revisiting key ideas at carefully spaced intervals; and connecting new material to subject matter you’ve already learned. This very readable book uses anecdotes of real-life learners to illustrate the principles it describes, and it contains many practical tips to use in the classroom.

Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do About It

By Donald L. McCabe, Kenneth D. Butterfield and Linda K. Trevino
Johns Hopkins, 2012

Recommended by Jeff Miller, CPA, Ph.D., Sam Houston State University, 2017 George Krull/Grant Thornton Innovation in Junior and Senior-Level Teaching Award winner

This eye-opening book is based on decades of research into the widespread problem of cheating in college. The authors identify reasons students cheat, paying special attention to the high academic pressure that many students face. They highlight institutional and cultural forces that can contribute to cheating, including the belief that the world is cutthroat and competitive, and the influence of peers who view cheating as a necessary way to get ahead. Perhaps most important, the authors give concrete suggestions for steps faculty and administrators can take to curb cheating and foster a culture of academic integrity.

What the Best College Teachers Do

By Ken Bain
Harvard, 2004

Recommended by Edmund Outslay, CPA, Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2017 AAA Cook Prize winner

In this book, Ken Bain and his colleagues present the results of their years-long investigation into what makes a professor truly memorable. Based on their interviews with and observations of highly regarded teachers from a variety of disciplines, this book contains a wealth of advice and ideas on how to improve your teaching. Bain covers topics ranging from the broadly philosophical (how do the best teachers view learning?) to the practical (how do great teachers conduct class and assess students?).

The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ

By David Shenk
Anchor, 2010

Recommended by Saundra Yancy McGuire, Ph.D., plenary speaker, director emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired assistant vice chancellor and professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University

Popular belief has it that our intelligence and talent are fixed quantities determined largely by our genes. That’s far from the truth, Peter Shenk argues in this book. Recent research into genetics, he states, finds that intellect and talent are the product of both our genes and our environment — and that there is much we can do to improve our environment and maximize our potential. His book is an inspiring read that may change the way you view your students and their abilities.

Courtney Vien is a senior editor for magazines and newsletters at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact her at Courtney.Vien@aicpa-cima.com.

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