Ideas That Work in College Teaching

Edited by Robert L. Badger

Subjects: Higher Education
Paperback : 9780791472200, 186 pages, November 2007
Hardcover : 9780791472194, 186 pages, November 2007

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Galen K. Pletcher

Preface: Behind the Making of this Book
Robert L. Badger

1. There Is No Such Thing as a Dumb Student, But How Can I Help Them Do Better?
Joel Foisy

2. Service Learning in Sociology: Replacing Hopelessness with Efficacy
Heather Sullivan-Catlin

3. Shaking the City’s Walls: Teaching Politics with Bruce Springsteen
John Massaro

4. Border Crossing in the North Country: An Academic Story
Liliana Trevizán

5. Group Projects in Computer Science
Peter S. Brouwer

6. Combining Art Studio and Art History to Engage Today’s Students
Caroline Downing

7. You Can Teach a Rock New Tricks
Robert L. Badger

8. Blinded by the Light: A Reflection on the Teaching of Introductory Courses in Philosophy
David Curry

9. Through the Comfort Zone or Just One More Go at College Teaching
Oscar Sarmiento

10. From the Traditional Lecture Toward Dialogical Learning: Changing Patterns in the Teaching of History
Ronald Woodbury

11. Preparing Teachers to Use Technology in the Elementary Mathematics Classroom
Sergei Abramovich

12. At Home in the Universe
Lawrence P. Brehm

13. Psi Fi: Learning Psychology Through Active Engagement in Science Fiction
William E. Herman

14. Putting Action in Theory: A Liberating Experiental Education
Peg Wesselink

15. Play to Learn
Walter J. Conley

List of Contributors

Fifteen authors from thirteen different disciplines discuss their varied approaches to teaching.


As members of the faculty of the same college, the State University of New York at Potsdam, the fifteen contributors to this book have the unique experience of working from the same pool of students in order to explore how to improve teaching, enhance learning, and make the classroom more interesting. Together professors from thirteen different disciplines—art, biology, computer science, education, geology, history, math, modern languages, philosophy, physics, politics, psychology, and sociology—discuss their varied approaches to teaching. They offer ideas and philosophies that have been tried and have been successful and discover that nothing works for all students, but nearly everything works for at least a few.

Robert L. Badger is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geology at State University of New York at Potsdam and the author of Geology along Skyline Drive: A Self-Guided Tour for Motorists.


"The ultimate value of the book comes from the process of having faculty members come together to discuss what's working and what's not. Reading about these faculty members who make thinking about teaching and learning a priority is inspirational … Ideas That Work in College Teaching is a contribution in the growing body of literature to help us shift the focus from teaching to active learning. " — Review of Higher Education

"…beyond being a respectable book on college teaching, it's such a wonderful idea. What a great way for faculty at an institution to make a foray into the scholarship of teaching. " — The Teaching Professor

"Ideas That Work in College Teaching is not a list of solutions to spice up one's college teaching. Rather, it is a book in which highly reflective professors offer thoughts about ways in which they have broken out of 'traditional' molds of teaching and the reasons why they have done so … they all share in common a self-reflective desire to improve their teaching, and a clear sense of teaching in order to serve their students. These two skills are what make their teaching and this book of their communal reflections a helpful read. " — Teaching Theology and Religion

"This book of articles by professors from a wide range of disciplines at SUNY Potsdam is a pleasure and a great source of practical guidance and information … the book is a sign of the dedication of these teachers and evidence of the many ways that we can all hope to reach our students. " — Teaching History

"…what is gained from reading this text will be personal to each reader. The common premise across the chapters, however, is that we all face a similar set of challenges in teaching students, such as getting students engaged, keeping them engaged throughout the semester, and leading students on a lifelong career of learning and intellectual curiosity. Ideas That Work in College Teaching is a text that provides some help in reaching these goals. " — Teaching Sociology

"I like the multidisciplinary approach that includes the various disciplines from the university. Many concerns have been voiced regarding the quality of college-university teaching and how students are being educated in our academies. Too often it is a fact that this area is not a point of concern for those who are outside of teacher education programs. " — Judy A. Alston, coauthor of School Leadership and Administration: Important Concepts, Case Studies, and Simulations, 7th Edition