4 Steps to developing an effective textbook chapter

Thinking about writing a textbook can be much like planning to climb a mountain. A daunting task that may be overwhelming and requires both endurance and strength before even getting started. 

As we prepare to climb the mountain, however, we’re going to focus on taking it one step at a time. Relating this to textbook authoring, the steps in the development of chapters involves the creation of carefully crafted headings specific to pre-defined topics that are thoughtfully enhanced by pairing content with feature strands to engage the reader and exercises which reinforce learning located within or at the end of the chapter.

Pedagogy of the book and chapter questions

Does the organization of the textbook relate to pedagogical approaches used to teach with it? I considered this question in relation to chapter organization in a previous post. In this post I will explore another part of the typical textbook chapter: questions.

Flip to the end of a textbook chapter, and you will usually find a list of questions, exercises, or other suggested assignments. Sometimes you will find additional learning activity ideas and resources on the companion website. Do they serve a purpose, or do readers flip past to get to the next assigned reading?

Pedagogy of book and chapter organization

Does the organization of the textbook relate to pedagogical approaches used to teach with it? What pedagogical perspectives are represented by the organizational style we choose for a book and its chapters? These questions percolated through my work on a recently completed book manuscript. When thinking about the organization of the book, I reflected on ways people read books today and how they use them to learn.

The audience for this book about the design of collaborative learning will include instructors or instructional designers across disciplines, as well as students in education courses. In other words, some might be reading it for their own professional purposes, while others might be reading it as assigned for a course. How might they use the book, and what can I do as a writer to facilitate meaningful learning?