Book by John E. Roueche, Mark D. Milliron, and Suanne D. Roueche
Review by Laura Alfano
Director of Staff Development
Virginia College at Birmingham

The title of this book immediately caught my attention. When done well, teaching is magic; and students take away new ideas and ways of perceiving the world that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

The authors “report on the perspectives, strategies, counsel, advice, and recommendations of thousands of teaching professionals who have received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award over the last decade” (p. vii). This award is presented annually to college instructors who exhibit teaching excellence. Recipients responded to survey questions, which form the basis of the book.

Two charts are of particular interest. The first is a comparison of the APA’s Learner-Centered Principles, Angelo’s “Teacher’s Dozen”, and Svinicki’s Learning Principles (pp. 51-54) in respect to cognitive factors, motivational factors, social factors, and individual factors. The second is a comparison of good teaching practices, using Roueche and Baker’s Teaching for Success Model, Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles of Good Practice, and Feldman’s Nine Exemplary Teaching Characteristics (pp. 55-58). These models are compared based upon intellectual skills, interpersonal skills, and motivational attributes; also included are characteristics considered to be indicative of good teaching.

Though there is some discussion of teaching and learning theory, this is not a book for readers interested in the philosophical side of classroom excellence. Instead, it focuses on the answers that the award-winning instructors gave researchers who categorized their comments into a plethora of advice for effective teaching. Besides core strategies for effectively teaching content and for effectively teaching students, the authors include recommendations for the beginning community college instructor.        

Although the authors, through the responses given by the NISOD award winners, concentrate on teaching behavior, many of the suggestions apply to any interpersonal interaction with students. Advisors, administrators, and others would benefit from the material. Experienced educators will recognize themselves and garner new ideas from the thoughts of those who care about the teaching profession and their students.  

Practical Magic: On the Front Lines of Teaching Excellence. (2003). Book by John E. Roueche, Mark D. Milliron, and Suanne D. Roueche. Review by Laura Alfano. Washington, D.C.: Community College Press 192 pp., $40, ISBN # 0-87117-335-2
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