For the last few summers, my favorite non-statistics author, Ms. Mentor of Chronicle of Higher Education, posts a listing of academic novels, http://chronicle.com/article/Novel-Academic-Novels-the/132155/. This year’s list looks enticing as ever. However, I find in the summer, I’m so busy catching up with everything I should have done long ago that reading fiction is not high up on my priority list. Yet, we all need an opportunity to unwind and recharge, and that often involves reading.
Here is my list of three non-fiction books that I believe make great summer reading for all professors, particularly those who teach applied statistics.
First on my list is Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi. Steele, a leading researcher in the area of stereotype threat, offers great research and examples of how stereotype threat can negatively impact both us and our students. I found I couldn’t put this book down once I started reading it. It is truly engaging. I frequently use examples of Steele’s research in my applied statistics class, adding two benefits … making applied statistics more concrete for students while helping them all to gain insight into how stereotype threat could be impacting them as they attempt to be successful in applied statistics.
Ken Bain’s, What the Great College Teachers Do, really helps to focus attention on behaviors that help students. Bain takes a systematic look at the behaviors of great teachers, providing clear examples and underlying explanations. It is also written well. What is great about this book is you don’t have to read it all at one time … I read it over the course of three months last summer, and continue to re-read certain sections of the book.
Emily Toth’s, Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia, is a book that highlights how women can navigate the academic environment. By now, you probably realize, I am a woman, so I can’t really take a man’s perspective, but I do believe much of the advice in this book is suited for both men and women.
The last book is not written by an academic and it was not written for academics, it is Sylvia Lafar’s, Don’t Bring it to Work, … but I’m so glad I read it (and attended a conference), as it helped me learn how to deal with “the cranky ones” at my university … though I would love for all of us to work in a stress free environment, most of us work with individuals who are passive aggressive, bully’s, or just sit by and watch as others bully. As an individual who is passionate about student success and who wants to see everyone be successful, working with others who openly pride themselves on “busting the chops” of junior faculty or overly burdened administrators simply make no sense to me. It is destructive not productive, and it certainly doesn’t help our students. For years I struggled with how to deal with such individuals. This book, though not as research based as what I would like, did provide me with insight into their behaviors and how I could change my behaviors to improve the situation. Though it has only been a few months since I read the book and implemented the recommended practices, I can tell you … my day to day function on campus has improved tremendously.
I encourage all of you with books that you feel helped you in teaching, fiction or non-fiction, to let us know.
Happy reading, thinking, and relaxing this summer!