Race, P (2014) Third Edition Making Learning Happen: A Guide for Post-Compulsory Education. London: Sage

Number of pages: 290

Cost: None given

The second decade of the 21st century has signalled some significant changes in the way we present learning in post compulsory learning. Teachers and lecturers need to be able to offer students different experiences in digital communication, online learning and MOOCs alongside more traditional teaching methods. In an age when learning could happen anywhere and everywhere except in a place of further or higher education institution it is important to consider how can we make learning more effective an interesting when we are face to face. But, we also need to incorporate the digital age into that learning experience. Making Learning Happen has put learner at the centre of the debate and has drawn together the fundamental factors required to help students learn more effectively. The previous editions have been well used in post compulsory education and this welcome third edition addresses the latest concerns in education whilst continuing to be centred round his ‘ripples in a pond’ model and includes many useful updates.

Making Learning Happen is written in nine chapters that include factors underpinning successful learning, designing the curriculum assessment driven learning, learning through feedback, making lectures inspiring, learning through observing and feedback and so on. Making Learning Happen is based on Race’s experiences, as a professor and university lecturer over the last forty years. Now retired from full time employment Phil Race uses his time offering workshops on his passion, teaching and learning. The text is based around seven factors, which Race says underpin effective learning. Each chapter considers how these seven factors interact with each other and how lecturers can consciously address these factors to help learning happen for students. He acknowledges the simplicity of the seven factors but together they can become complex and interesting in terms of how students learn.

Whilst not based on policy or any particular theories the pragmatic way different issues about learning are addressed can only lead to a change to practice in post compulsory education. However, it is clear that Race has drawn on different theorists and academics such as Dewey, Schon, Gardner, Kolb who are used to illustrate the points being made. There are many book that have been written about the theories of learning, Making Learning Happen has a far more practical approach.

It is a book that is easily read and understood and encourages you to put your new learning into practice. There are some useful summary points and grids that can be used by lecturers and at the end of each chapter there is a section called ‘tips for students’. For lecturers who need some specific pointers for their students such as using learning outcomes or assessment criteria there are ideas that you could use with your students that go beyond study skills. The final chapter ‘What can I do when?’ gives different responses and strategies for a wide selection of scenarios that most of us have faced when teaching or lecturing. In reading the book it has helped me to rethink how I approach some of my sessions with students and adult learners, particularly when working in large learning groups.

This book is an invaluable resource for lecturers and tutors in universities and colleges, post 16 teachers in secondary education and education managers. It is also a useful resource for postgraduate students on higher and further education programmes and staff development courses.

Making learning happen helps us to reflect on what exactly so we mean by learning, as Race says ‘ it is the learners who learn, we can’t do it for them…they have to do it for themselves’ (p7). As teachers and lecturers our role is to case learning to happen and this book offers numerous insights as to how we can create the right conditions for learning to happen.

Dr Coleen R Jackson, Consultant Principal, Waverley Abbey College of Higher Education