Book by Erickson, Bette, Peters, Calvin B., and Strommer, Diane Weltner
Review by Susan Dawkins
Academic Support Center
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Johnstown, PA

This text, a revised edition of Teaching College Freshmen, provides an excellent and timely resource for veteran as well as novice college teachers.  Here authors consider every facet of the classroom experience, exploring many unique aspects of the first-year experience.

Most striking about this volume is its consistent blend of clearly explained theory and broad range of practical suggestions for teaching first-year students.  Each of its three sections – Understanding First-Year Students, Effective Instruction for First-Year Students, and Opportunities and Challenges in First-Year Instruction – includes helpful information on a variety of topics including: student development theory, learning styles, course design, presenting effective lectures, evaluation and grading, diversity, group activities, and, most helpful for new faculty advisors, a strong discussion of advising goals and practice.

While this volume is directed to classroom faculty who wish to rejuvenate their teaching, it offers much for academic advisors and others interested in the first-year experience.  Although the advising section is directed to faculty advisors, non-faculty advisors will find its information useful and thought-provoking.  The authors provide a clear explanation of the advisor’s role and make concrete suggestions for conducting advising sessions. I would like to see more resources cited in this section (NACADA, for example, isn’t mentioned), but the discussion is more than adequate given the scope and focus of the book. Advisors will be enlightened by the authors’ discussion of special challenges in teaching.  For example, an advisor who graduated from a small college will find insightful descriptions of the issues involved in taking classes in auditorium-style classrooms. The discussions about diversity in the classroom and the role of graduate teaching assistants are excellent additions to the literature on these topics.  

The authors acknowledge that Teaching First-Year College Students focuses on traditional-age, full-time students.  Thus, those who teach traditional-aged students college students will find it most applicable to their experience. This observation, however, should not deter college teachers in other venues from reading the book.  The theories, observations, and practical suggestions offered by the authors will benefit almost any teacher or advisor – and, more importantly, their students.  

Teaching First-Year College Students. (2006)  Book by Erickson, Bette, Peters, Calvin B., and Strommer, Diane Weltner. Review by Susan Dawkins. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 284 pp. $38.00. ISBN # 0-7879-6439-5
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