Pursuing Teaching Excellence and an Inclusive Perspective (Book Review)

Pursuing Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: Towards an Inclusive Perspective.

Margaret Wood, Feng Su. 2021. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN9781350055285.
173 pages. $35 (softcover).

What do Wood and Su (who are UK-university teachers) mean when they discuss what they call an inclusive perspective? In their understanding, they include the perspective of various stakeholders interested in educational excellence. The stakeholders include students, parents, employers, academics, and educational institutions – each getting a chapter in Pursuing Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: Towards an Inclusive Perspective.

The authors apply this attempt at inclusivity toward teaching excellence which they argue is poorly understood and poorly defined. They attempt in Pursuing Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: Towards an Inclusive Perspective to better define excellence in higher education. They do this by looking at an understanding of the role and purpose of higher education. The authors argue that by looking at inclusive perspectives, they can get a valuable understanding of the value of higher education and move toward excellence.

To give an idea of what kinds of issues the authors discuss, consider from the academician’s viewpoint the following question as it relates to academic excellence – is it possible to excel in both teaching and research (p. 55)? From the viewpoint of the student, the authors ask the question relating it to excellence – does teaching excellence focus too much on teaching and not enough on the role of the learner and learning (p. 76)? The authors ask equally interesting questions for all the perspectives/stakeholders discussed.

The authors even look at what academic excellence means in not just the UK. For example, researchers in Russia indicate that excellence has a narrow definition (p. 21). Excellence in Russia shows research is more important than teaching. This perspective gives an even more insightful glimpse as how to think about excellence in higher education.

Students, parents, teachers, researchers, policy makers at academic institutions, employers, and anyone interested in the topic of academic excellence could find Pursuing Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: Towards an Inclusive Perspective to be a valuable resource and perspective on what it means to be academically excellent today. We can also as a society look at this book to help examine the purpose of academic institutions and how to make these institutions reflect the interests of various stakeholders providing an inclusive perspective.

By Jeanette Evans

A version of this review is scheduled to appear in Technical Communication (STC’s journal).