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On Course

On Course

A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching

James M. Lang

ISBN 9780674047419

Publication date: 05/10/2010

You go into teaching with high hopes: to inspire students, to motivate them to learn, to help them love your subject. Then you find yourself facing a crowd of expectant faces on the first day of the first semester, and you think “Now what do I do?”

Practical and lively, On Course is full of experience-tested, research-based advice for graduate students and new teaching faculty. It provides a range of innovative and traditional strategies that work well without requiring extensive preparation or long grading sessions when you’re trying to meet your own demanding research and service requirements. What do you put on the syllabus? How do you balance lectures with group assignments or discussions—and how do you get a dialogue going when the students won’t participate? What grading system is fairest and most efficient for your class? Should you post lecture notes on a website? How do you prevent cheating, and what do you do if it occurs? How can you help the student with serious personal problems without becoming overly involved? And what do you do about the student who won’t turn off his cell phone?

Packed with anecdotes and concrete suggestions, this book will keep both inexperienced and veteran teachers on course as they navigate the calms and storms of classroom life.


  • I wish I'd had this book when I began teaching. Lang's countless practical suggestions could help everyone from the new teaching assistant to the most senior professor. He challenges us to be better, more creative teachers. At the same time, his description of the strains in learning to teach—especially the anguish we can go through when grading—are both funny and comforting.

    —Paul Umbach, University of Iowa


  • James M. Lang is Associate Professor of English at Assumption College and former assistant director of the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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