Academic First Year Experiences

Small Teaching by James M. Lang: Book Group


Small teaching defined

small teaching: "an approach that seeks to spark positive change in higher education through small but powerful modifications to our course design and teaching practices" (Lang 5).

Why small teaching is worth your time

"Not every instructor in every discipline in every teaching context will find a space for all of the small teaching activities outlined here, but every reader should find opportunities to use at least some of them. You can implement them tomorrow morning, next week on Friday, in the design of your next quiz or test, and even . . . in the next e-mail you send to your students" (Lang 6).

"An essential shared quality of all . . . forms of small teaching is that they require minimal preparation and grading" (Lang 8).

A few additional resources

Concept maps

  1. is a simple, and easy to use mind mapping tool
  2. Gliffy: has more complex shapes and tools, can export as a jpg, and provides a URL to a read-only version of the map
  3. Mind42: is more robust, can export a map as PDF or jpg, can add attachments, URL links, or notes to nodes, has good collaboration tools (e.g. connections to Skype or Google Talk accounts)

Eric Mazur and Turn to Your Neighbor 

The video Lang mentions (Small Teaching 154) probably is somewhere on the blog he points to, but that blog is now very large and I couldn't find the video there.  I did, however, find this one showing Mazur in action: (8:21, 2012). The closed captioning is not optimal but it is (just barely) good enough. 

Writing in Large GE Classes: Doing the Impossible

Here's a collection of ways you can have students write in large GE classes without losing your mind. Most of these resources are short, practical, and available online. Disclaimer: I assembled them for a workshop here at CSUN a few years ago. There's a companion site if your challenge is not writing in particular, but grading in general:

What are CSUN faculty saying about this book?

"Great book!  I started implementing things in class right away, like retrieval."  --Souzan V. 


Call Cheryl (x3932) or Kelly (x6535) in Academic First Year Experiences if you have questions. We have copies of the book if you want to take a quick look before you sign up: SH 422 (Sierra Hall 4th floor).