Academic First Year Experiences

Small Teaching by James M. Lang: Book Group

Update: all 12 seats are full

What can I say? We filled all 12 seats. I'm going to leave the RSVP form open, though, and if we get a waiting list that's big enough, I'll try to host a second group at a different time. Possibly next semester; depends....So go ahead and RSVP (button below) if you might be interested.

A few resources for fall 2018 participants

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:


You are invited to join a fall 2018 faculty book group to read and discuss Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang (Jossey-Bass, 2016). We will serve light refreshments (coffee, tea, water, snacks) and you can certainly bring your lunch. Each participant will receive a copy of the book.

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).

Book group meetings

We will meet three times, on Thursdays, from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., in Santa Susana Hall*, room 108:

  • October 11: discussion of the Introduction: Small Teaching and Part I: Knowledge (pages 1-89)
  • November 1: discussion of Part II: Understanding (pages 91-165)
  • November 29: discussion of Part III: Inspiration, and Conclusion: Beginning (pages 167-246)

*Santa Susana Hall is located between Manzanita Hall and the Campus Store Complex.

Who will be in the group?

  • Cheryl Spector (English & Academic First Year Experiences) is convening the group.
  • Greg Knotts (Elementary Education & Assistant Director of Faculty Development) is participating for Faculty Development.
  • Up to ten other CSUN faculty.

Join us! 


Please RSVP to join us (first come, first served, limit of 12 participants). Each participant gets a free copy of the book--and the fun of reading it collaboratively.

What are CSUN faculty saying about this book?

"Great book!  I started implementing things in class right away, like retrieval."  --Souzan V. (And she's only just starting Part II....)


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).