Making Teaching Work: Teaching Smarter in Post-Compulsory Education

Author(s) Phil Race, Ruth Pickford
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd
Published 2007
Pages 182
Price £19.99
ISBN 9781412936071
Reviewed by Ms Kit Leighton-Kelly
University of Bristol-Teaching Support Unit
Review published 22 January 2008

This book reminds us that a ‘fundamental shift’ is required of teachers in further and higher education as widening participation brings not only greater numbers of students of extensive social diversity, expectations, capabilities and listening skills, but brings also demanding reviews and assessments of teaching practice.

Race and Pickford offer a thoroughly practical guide to managing these challenges, and cover the whole range of teaching work. They discuss how to maximise channels of communications between teachers and students, and how to deal most effectively with the demands of working in small and large groups, and with disruptive students.

They suggest ways of developing online teaching, and managing assessment and feedback to students, describing feedback as ‘the lubricant for the engine which drives learning’, and demonstrating how to differentiate generic and individual feedback in order to speed delivery.

Suggestions for how to ensure that teaching is felt to be effective and described as effective in students’ assessments include, for example, the suggestion of a ‘module fair’ run by staff and past students to help students decide which modules to take. Comparably practical ideas for record keeping and continuing self-monitoring are put forward, and their value as evidence for teaching review processes is emphasised.

The chapters on ‘Managing assessment and feedback’ and ‘Addressing student satisfaction’ are usefully built around questions and responses to the most recent UK National Student Surveys (2005 and 2006).

Each chapter is well sign-posted with headings and sub-headings, and bullet points summarise practical suggestions, so that the book is easy to use as a look-up source when dealing with problems, as well as being a source of inspiration and a practical help in course planning.

This concise book is strongly recommended as an invaluable source both for new teachers and for their mentors who may be well experienced, but nevertheless glad of new ideas for coping with the demanding and fundamental shifts in how teaching is undertaken and assessed.