Research suggest that students are not learning nearly as well as they should or could. Three books on the learning crisis stand out: Derek Bok’s Our Underachieving Colleges (2007), Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift (2010), and Rebekah Nathan’s My Freshman Year (2005).
In a culture with few serious readers, professors belong to a privileged reading class. We are literate to nth degree. When we read the scholarship on teaching and learning, we put our high levels of literacy to use for immediate and practical good. Unfortunately, too often we do not do this as much as we might want or as much as we should, for a variety of legitimate and not-so-legitimate reasons. Why not? Obstacles abound.
That many of us read the scholarship on teaching and learning may largely be explained by its utilitarian value, i.e., we read because doing so may prove useful in improving our teaching. However, beyond its “use-value,” many of us read because doing so fits the ethos of professorship. To wit, we value reading, curiosity, lifelong learning, critical thinking, evidentiary reasoning, capacity for sustained effort, and quality.
In one survey, only 8 percent of college teachers reported “taking any account” of research on teaching and learning into preparing their courses. The first annual Teaching & Learning in Higher Ed. reading drive invites college teachers and others involved in college teaching and learning to read at least one book on teaching and learning this school year.