#1806 New Directions for Higher Teaching and Learning: Big Picture Pedagogy: Finding Interdisciplinary Solutions to Common Learning Problems, Gurung, Regan, A.R., & Voelker, David.,J.,  ISBN 978-1-119-44596-8, $25.00

Reviewed by Pamela Dale

Wayne State University

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“I do not understand the material, the class is boring, the instructor doesn’t like me, the instructor says the student does not put forth enough effort in the class or they are not engaged in classroom discussions,” are statements, questions, and concerns ringing through the hallways of colleges and universities.

Academic advisors, who are also faculty advisors, are often faced with the concerns of how to help students help themselves in a stimulating and challenging learning environment that vastly differs from what they have been accustomed. “How can we know when and how much students have learned in their disciplinary content? The skills or habits of mind is crucial to all disciplines.” Anthony A. Cicconne, pg.7. Big Picture Pedagogy: Finding Interdisciplinary Solutions to Common Learning Problems.

This volume focuses on the ways in which the scholarship of teaching and learning can better think about the “big picture of teaching and learning.” Catherine Wehlburg, Editor-in-chief, In Big- Picture Pedagogy Finding Interdisciplinary Solutions to Common Learning Problems, Drs. Gurung and Voelker skillfully highlight the role of faculty in the college experience, a holistic approach to both define and offer solutions to this issue. Their writing confronts the issues faced by students of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds comparing those attending large, prestigious, Ivy League institutions with smaller institutions, bringing all the major players into one well-researched conversation on the best pedagogical practices utilized today in higher education.

Advisors gain knowledge and strategies on how to assist their students with understanding an instructor’s pedagogical style and technique while mastering their own particular style of learning. The desired outcome should be to improve overall communication between the student, faculty and advisor.  In my opinion, this is a book geared more toward advisors, but is especially useful for the learning specialist, center for teaching learning and/ or academic support services office.

While reading the book I thought about a technique discussed in a previous reading, Fixed vs. Growth Mindset by Carol Dwerk.  While the topic of mindsets was not specifically addressed in the Big Picture Reading, I think it could be an important element when discussing the pedagogy of teaching and learning. Fixed mindset says, “Talent alone creates success without effort. Growth mindset says that you create a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

A major strength of this book is the sheer amount of research thoroughly discussed in each chapter. I learned a lot as result of reading the book especially the chapters involving flipped classrooms, shifting pedagogical styles from the sage on the stage, to a simpler guide by your side type of instruction, which many advisors can relate. It beautifully articulated effective teaching of empathy to students, and bridging the educational gap between the classroom and the real world. Lastly, the book went into depth on problem-based learning and global education, another hot topic today, ending with excellence in the classroom.

In conclusion, the issues related to face-to-face classroom vs. online/hybrid instruction was a lively and informative read. Furthermore, the information on validation theory as an important outcome of student success was equally intriguing. Lastly, the book did an excellent job of highlighting information on nonverbal intimacy and the pros and cons of active vs. passive learning.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading and would highly recommend it to all constituents in higher education.

Posted in: 2017 Book Reviews
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