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CTE- Center for Teaching Excellence: Book discussions

Current CTE Book discussions

Send an email to to register for one of the following sessions and we will buy you a book!

Beginning Tuesday, January 21, 2020 1:00-2:00
On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life

Beginning Monday, January 27, 2020 1:00-2:00
Publicly Engaged ScholarsNext-Generation Engagement and the Future of Higher Education 

Beginning Thursday, January 23, 2020 2:00-3:00
Minds Online-Teaching Effectively with Technology 

Beginning Wednesday, January 22, 2020 3:00-4:00

Beginning Monday, January 27, 2020 12:00-1:00
The Years that Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks us

Spring 2020 CTE Book discussions

Fall 2019 Book discussions

Teaching with Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom

 edited by Philathia Bolton et al. (Northwestern University Press 2019)     Tuesdays, 2:30-3:30

The original essays in this newly published volume critically examine the effects of current politics and the emergence of the neoliberal university on our students, classrooms, and teaching, and offer strategies for conceptualizing, talking about, and teaching race.


The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

by Cathy N. Davidson ( Basic Books 2017)     Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00 

“What would it mean to redesign higher education for the intellectual space travel students need to thrive in the world we living in now? What would it mean to reorient educational paradigms that, at present, overly standardize, test, diagnose (from disability to giftedness and all points in between), specialize, and discipline students in one-way transmission models inspired by the hierarchy of the factory and the assembly line, not the interactive internet?” These are some of the provocative and critically important questions raised by higher education scholar and innovator, Cathy Davidson. Join us for a lively discussion of the implications of her argument for what we do at Xavier, no matter what our role.


Descartes’ Discourse on Method (1637)          Wednesdays, 3:00-4:00 

In this compact, elegantly written text in the form of an autobiography, Descartes criticizes his own Jesuit education as he seeks certain and useful knowledge that he can discover independently of authority, tradition, and fallible sensations. He promises that through the modern, mathematical approach to natural science, human beings can become “the masters and possessors of nature.” Join Philosophy professor and E/RS Director Richard Polt in discussion of this text which virtually every Xavier undergraduate encounters in Philosophical Perspectives and which offers ideas that are relevant to nearly every course taught on campus. No previous knowledge of the text is assumed.


The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion

by Sarah Rose Cavanagh (West Virginia University Press 2016)  Fridays, 12:00-1:00 

In this engaging and provocative work, Sara Rose Cavanagh challenges the assumption that logic, rationality, and objectivity are the necessary hallmarks of college classrooms. She states, “...if you want to grab the attention of your students, mobilize their efforts, prolong their persistence, permanently change how they see the world, and maximize the changes that they will retain the material you’re teaching them over the long term, then there is no better approach than to target their emotions.” Cavanagh supports her perspective with research on emotions, neuroscience, and education, and offers specific techniques and activities for implementing these insights in our classrooms.


Spring 2019 Book discussions

Plato’s Republic

translated by C.D.C. Reeve, 2004, Hackett Publishing

Virtually every Xavier undergraduate encounters the philosophical dialogue of Plato’s Republic in our Core Curriculum. Offering ideas that are relevant to nearly every course taught on campus, the Republic’s main theme is the nature of justice in a society and in an individual. The characters’ conversation on justice leads to topics such as democracy, communism, feminism, law, money, family, tyranny, mental health and illness, ambition, desire, physical training, cultural and intellectual education, literature, music, myth, mathematics, ultimate truth, and the afterlife. Facilitated by Richard Polt, Professor of Philosophy and E/RS Director, this group is unlikely to run out of topics for discussion.


iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, Jean Twenge, 2017, Atria Books

Just when you thought you might understand the Millennials, along comes another generation! Born between approximately 1995 and 2012, iGen has begun to hit college classrooms, bringing new challenges and opportunities with them. In this recently published book, professor of psychology, Jean Twenge, identifies ten trends, including In No Hurry, Internet, Irreligious, and Inclusive, that have significantly shaped iGen’ers, and discusses the implications for those of us who teach them. Niamh O’Leary, English Department, will facilitate this book discussion group.


Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students With Autism

edited by Dawn Prince-Huges, 2002, Swallow Press

Edited by anthropologist, Dawn Prince Hughes, who herself has Asperger’s Syndrome, this short but powerful book includes writings by college students who are on the autism spectrum. In their own words, these students recount the challenges they face, but also speak to their unique ways of looking at and solving problems, and the potential contributions they can make to diverse classrooms, when given the opportunity. This discussion will be facilitated by Kandi Stinson, Sociology Department and CTE, and Cindy Stieby, LAC.


Critical Condition: Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity

 Patrick Finn, 2015, Wilfrid Laurier University Press

In this provocative book, Patrick Finn begins with what he calls a foolish question—”Isn’t it time we replaced critical thinking?” Arguing that the world around us is dramatically and fundamentally changing, Finn argues that so is the kind of thinking we should be cultivating in our students. His proposal? To replace critical thinking with creative, loving, open-source thought. Miti von Weissenberg, History Department, will facilitate this discussion.

Fall 2018 Book discussions

Teaching the Whole Student: Engaged Learning With Heart, Mind, and Spirit

 edited by David Schoem, Christine Modey, and Edward St. John (AAC&U 2017)

The essays in this edited volume remind us that students not only bring their minds and knowledge to the classroom, they bring their hearts and spirits. Authors share their personal experiences of and strategies for creating learning experiences that engage the whole student, create community, and foster deep learning.


Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

by Steve Silberman (Penguin Random House 2015)

What is autism? Wy have diagnoses seemingly skyrocketed? And most importantly, what would happen if, instead of viewing autism as a lifelong disability, we considered it as only one variation in a large, diverse range of cognitive differences? This award-winning book addresses these questions and along the way, raises implications for workplaces, educational institutions, and other realms of life.


Getting Started With Team-Based Learning

by Jim Sibley and Peter Ostafichuk with Bill Roberson, Billie Franchini, and Karla Kubitz (Stylus 2014)

The authors draw on their own experiences as well as tips and techniques from 46 faculty members around the world, to guide readers through the implementation of team-based learning. Specifically the book offers strategies for using teams effectively, assuring students come to class prepared, designing effective application activities, and establishing accountability.

Spring 2018 Book Discussions


Paying the price : college costs, financial aid, and the betrayal of the American dream / Sara Goldrick-Rab

Are you smart enough? : how colleges' obsession with smartness shortchanges students / Alexander W. Astin

The war against boys : how misguided policies are harming our young men / Christina Hoff Sommers

A concise guide to improving student learning : six evidence-based principles and how to apply them / Diane Cummings Persellin and Mary Blythe Daniels

Fall 2017 Book discussions

Fall 2017 Book Discussion related reading

Coach’s Guide to Women Professors  by Rena Seltzer

     Seltzer, R. (2015, July 24). To Find Happiness in Academe, Women Should Just Say No. Chronicle of Higher Education. pp. B12-B13.

Generation Z Goes to College by Corey Seemiller; Meghan Grace 

    Hope J. Get your campus ready for Generation Z. Enrollment Management Report. July 2016;20(4):1-5.

    Kingston, A. (2014). Get ready for Generation Z. Maclean's, 127(28), 42.

    Loveland, E. (2017). Instant Generation. Journal of College Admission, (234), 34-38.

Improving How Universities Teach Science: Lessons from the Science Education Initiative, by Carl Wieman

Spring 2017

Caudill, S. A. (1997). Teaching to Transgress (book review). Quarterly Journal Of Speech, 83(1), 129. 

Leistyna, P. (1995). Editors' reviews. Harvard Educational Review, 65(2), 322. 

Perkins-Gough, D. (2013). The significance of grit: a conversation with Angela Lee Duckworth. Educational Leadership, 71 (1).


Hochanadel, A., & Finamore, D. (2015). Fixed and Growth Mindset in Education and How Grit Helps Students Persist in the Face of Adversity. Journal of International Education Research, 11(1), 47-50.