Book by: Brinkley, Alan, Dessants, Betty, Flamm, Michael, Fleming, Cynthia, Forcey, Charles, and Rothschild, Eric
Review by: Jennifer R. Radecki
Academic Advisor, Department of Engineering Education
Purdue University

Effective advisors gracefully balance the roles of interpreter and enforcer of institutional policy, mentor, counselor, conscience, and educator.   Therefore, it seems like a natural extension of an advisor’s cultivated gifts to move from the office into the classroom.  While many make this transition, unfortunately they often do so with little educational background, mentoring, or support.  Consequently, they may not know how to begin planning classes and they find themselves making frustrating mistakes as they progress through the term. 

The authors of The Chicago Handbook for Teachers offer assistance by providing a concise, jargon-free, reference manual for the beginning college teacher.  This text mentors rather than directs the reader, combining thought-provoking questions with practical insights into common classroom concerns.  There are interesting discussions about course preparation, lecturing and discussion methods, and instructor assessment.  Advisors may also appreciate the chapters covering technology integration, inclusive classroom development, and exam creation.   

The intended audience for this reference manual, new college instructors and graduate teaching assistants, guides the text. This underlying assumption is especially prominent within the chapter addressing student writing and research where it is assumed that readers have extensive research skills and are experts in the literature of their chosen field.  Advisors without this background may feel slightly intimidated by some of the authors’ suggestions.  However most tips and advice can be easily implemented and do not require an extensive research background.

While The Chicago Handbook for Teachers lays an excellent framework, it should not be an aspiring instructor’s only resource. The authors provide a strong list of supplemental readings that, surprisingly, lack resources dealing with student psychosocial and cognitive development theory.  This is a slight disappointment especially when the inclusion of this information throughout the text would have improved the authors’ discussion of classroom dynamics and student-teacher interaction.  Nevertheless, the beginning instructor-advisor will find this a well-written and organized pocketbook mentor that can be a great help in planning and implementing successful courses.

The Chicago handbook for teachers: A practical guide to the college classroom. (1999). Book by Brinkley, Alan, Dessants, Betty, Flamm, Michael, Fleming, Cynthia, Forcey, Charles, and Rothschild, Eric.  Review by  Jennifer R. Radecki. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 195 pp. Price $10.00. ISBN # 0-226-07512-5.

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