This is the first in a series of posts about the book Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang. I am reading and reviewing Small Teaching as part of the process of becoming a trainer-of-trainers for Software and Data Carpentry so that I can run instructor training. This first post introduces the book, and the next (and subsequent posts) will discuss specific chapters.

Introduction to Small Teaching

Small Teaching provides a set of small changes to teaching practice that are both easy to implement and supported by research on how humans learn.

The book is organized into three sections (Knowledge, Understanding, Inspiration), each with three chapters that describe a small teaching practice. Each chapter includes:

  1. A summary of the research that supports the recommendations
  2. A few models of small teaching approaches
  3. Guidance for creating your own small teaching strategies.

I’ve watched several colleagues try the new ‘flipped classroom’ model, and the general consensus seems to be that they and their students like the outcomes but that the amount of work required is enormous and the effort probably outweighs the benefits. So, I am interested in the idea of small changes that seem more likely to be adopted by a larger number of instructors in more courses (and may have equally good outcomes?).