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EIU Faculty Development and Innovation Center

Faculty Reading Groups




Fall 2017 Book

Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James Lang. We began discussing the first part of this book this past Spring. But, join now to focus on the second half of the work. Need a copy? Contact and we'll reserve a free hardback for you to pick up at our office! 




Spark of LearningThe Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion by Sara Cavanagh. We began discussing the first part of this book this fall. Need a copy? Contact and we'll reserve a free hardback for you to pick up at our office! 


English-based Reading Group/Workshop 

The Faculty Development and Innovation Center seeks to encourage interdisciplinary conversations about teaching and the academic life. To facilitate this, the office has acquired books that provide rich fodder for general and specific discussion for faculty members.


Spring 2017

Small Teaching book coverSmall Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning
James M. Lang
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2016

About the Book:

Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. But that's easier said than done. Many books about cognitive theory introduce radical but impractical theories, failing to make the connection to the classroom. In Small Teaching, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference—many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and the classroom environment in a way that can be implemented by any faculty in any discipline, and even integrated into pre-existing teaching techniques. Learn, for example:

  • How does one become good at retrieving knowledge from memory?
  • How does making predictions now help us learn in the future?
  • How do instructors instill fixed or growth mindsets in their students?

Each chapter introduces a basic concept in cognitive theory, explains when and how it should be employed, and provides firm examples of how the intervention has been or could be used in a variety of disciplines. Small teaching techniques include brief classroom or online learning activities, one-time interventions, and small modifications in course design or communication with students.

About the Author:

Fall 2015

Make it Stick Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
Authors: Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel
(2014) The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Cambridge, MA; London, England

About the Book:

To most of us, learning something “the hard way” implies wasted time and effort. Good teaching, we believe, should be creatively tailored to the different learning styles of students and should use strategies that make learning easier. Make It Stick turns fashionable ideas like these on their head. Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the authors offer concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners.

Memory plays a central role in our ability to carry out complex cognitive tasks, such as applying knowledge to problems never before encountered and drawing inferences from facts already known. New insights into how memory is encoded, consolidated, and later retrieved have led to a better understanding of how we learn. Grappling with the impediments that make learning challenging leads both to more complex mastery and better retention of what was learned.

Many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive. Underlining and highlighting, rereading, cramming, and single-minded repetition of new skills create the illusion of mastery, but gains fade quickly. More complex and durable learning come from self-testing, introducing certain difficulties in practice, waiting to re-study new material until a little forgetting has set in, and interleaving the practice of one skill or topic with another.

Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel are cognitive scientists who have dedicated their careers to the study of learning and memory. Peter Brown is a story-teller. They have teamed up to explain how learning and memory work by telling the stories of people who have who found their way to mastery of complex knowledge and skills–stories that illuminate the principles of learning that empirical research shows are highly effective.

Speaking most urgently to students, teachers, trainers, and athletes, Make it Stick will appeal to all those interested in the challenge of lifelong learning and self-improvement.

About the Authors:

Peter C. Brown is a writer and novelist in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Henry L. Roediger III is James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Mark A. McDaniel is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE) at Washington University in St. Louis.

Website with Resources:
(See for discussion questions, podcasts, articles and video interviews with authors)

Fall 2014

Whistiling VivaldiWhistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do
Claude M. Steele

W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 4, 2011)


The acclaimed social psychologist offers an insider’s look at his research and groundbreaking findings on stereotypes and identity. Claude M. Steele, who has been called “one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.

About the Author:

Claude Steele is the provost of Columbia University. He is the author of numerous published articles and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


NPR Interview with Author, Claude Steele

Author Address at Tufts University


All faculty and staff who are interested in joining our interdisciplinary faculty reading groups can call the Office of Faculty Development at (217) 581-7051 or email to sign up.

Fall 2013

Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning
Jose Antonio Bowen

Introducing a new way to think about higher education, learning, and technology that prioritizes the benefits of the human dimension. José Bowen recognizes that technology is profoundly changing education and that if students are going to continue to pay enormous sums for campus classes, colleges will need to provide more than what can be found online and maximize "naked" face-to-face contact with faculty. Here, he illustrates how technology is most powerfully used outside the classroom, and, when used effectively, how it can ensure that students arrive to class more prepared for meaningful interaction with faculty. Bowen offers practical advice for faculty and administrators on how to engage students with new technology while restructuring classes into more active learning environments.

About the Author:

José Antonio Bowen is dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, Algur H. Meadows Chair, and professor of music at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.


Spring 2013

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman

Distilling the research literature and translating the scientific approach into language relevant to a college or university teacher, this book introduces seven general principles of how students learn. The authors have drawn on research from a breadth of perspectives (cognitive, developmental, and social psychology; educational research; anthropology; demographics; organizational behavior) to identify a set of key principles underlying learning, from how effective organization enhances retrieval and use of information to what impacts motivation. Integrating theory with real-classroom examples in practice, this book helps faculty to apply cognitive science advances to improve their own teaching.

About the Authors:

Susan A. Ambrose is Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Professor of Education at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Michael W. Bridges is director of faculty development at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Michele DiPietro is associate director for graduate programs at the Eberly Center and instructor in the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon.

Marsha C. Lovett is associate director for faculty development at the Eberly Center and associate teaching professor in the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

Marie K. Norman is a teaching consultant and research associate at the Eberly Center and adjunct professor of anthropology at Carnegie Mellon.

The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University was created in 1982 with a mission to distill the research on learning for faculty and graduate students and to collaborate with them to design and implement meaningful educational experiences. The center's work is based on the idea that combining the science and art of teaching empowers college faculty to create the conditions for students to learn and, through this learning, transform their world.

Please contact us at (217) 581-7051 or email to sign up for reading groups. The Faculty Development office will coordinate a time and location for interested faculty.

We welcome suggestions of titles for future semesters.

Related Pages

Contact Information

Dr. Michael Gillespie, Director, FDIC


Julie Lockett, Director of Learning Innovation


Kim Ervin
Instructional Designer


Faculty Development and Innovation Center

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