Joshua R. Eyler, Ph.D.

Internationally Recognized Expert on Teaching, Learning, and the Future of Education

Joshua Eyler, Ph.D. is Director of Faculty Development and Director of the Think Forward Quality Enhancement Plan at the University of Mississippi, where he is also Clinical Assistant Professor of Teacher Education. He previously worked on teaching and learning initiatives at Columbus State University, George Mason University, and Rice University. A sought-after speaker for his expertise about the science of learning and about compassion in education, especially in connection with students, grades, and mental health, he has spoken at college and universities across the country, including Yale University, University of Texas, and Johns Hopkins University.

Eyler is the author of Failing Our Future: How Grades Harm Students and What We Can Do About It, an indictment of the grading system in American schools and colleges―and a blueprint for how we can change it, and the acclaimed book How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories behind Effective College Teaching, which in 2019 Book Authority named “100 Best Education Books of All Time”.  Called a “splendid repository of ways to rethink how we teach college” by the Los Angeles Review of Books, it was named a “Book of the Year” in the Chicago Tribune.

In Failing Our Future, Eyler shines a spotlight on how grades inhibit learning, cause problems between parents and children, amplify inequities, and contribute to the youth mental health crisis.He illustrates how grades interfere with students’ intrinsic motivation and perpetuate the idea that school is a place for competition rather than discovery. Grades force students to focus on rewards and distract them from exploring ideas or pursuing interests beyond what they’ll be tested on. In fact, grades significantly impede the learning process. They are also significantly affecting children’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation have spiked, and academic stress tied to grades is a leading cause of this escalation. Eyler shares success stories of grading reform efforts that are already under way as an antidote to the harms caused by the practices currently used in educational institutions.

In his free time, Eyler coaches his daughter’s youth softball team and tries valiantly to perfect his gumbo recipe.

Praise for Failing Our Future 

“Joshua Eyler turns the seemingly radical idea that we should abolish grades into a practical, principled, commonsense agenda for the future of education and, more importantly, for the best future for our students. Highly recommended to anyone who cares about students today.”

―Cathy N. Davidson, Graduate Center, City University of New York

“We have known that grades are a poor indicator of learning, let alone mastery, for a very long time, and I’m thrilled that Joshua Eyler has written this book to explain why. It will be an essential fixture on my list of books about best practices for education.”

―Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure and The Addiction Inoculation

“The perilous ascent of achievement culture in our schools has reached a tipping point, and its origin, as Joshua Eyler illustrates in this extensively researched and narratively engaging work, is our fixation with grades, which has come to overwhelm the deep learning our children deserve. Failing Our Future is such an important book for our time―an indispensable read for every educator and every parent.”

―Jeff Selingo, author of Who Gets In and Why, cohost of Future U

Praise for Joshua Eyler and How Humans Learn

“Many people said [Josh’s] message was just what they needed to hear at this time. One said she went home and reworked her syllabus for a course she’s taught many times to incorporate principles of care. She even stayed up until midnight to do it! Also, [Josh’s] address and ideas were echoed several times in the day-long Strategic Planning Group retreat that took place the day after the talk.”

—David Parfitt, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at SUNY-Geneseo

“A wonderful tool for reflection on one’s own teaching practice, a way to catalog one’s own values and how we put them into practice in the classroom and out.”

—Inside Higher Ed

“Joshua R. Eyler, who directs the Rice University Center for Teaching Excellence, has done all teachers—and all people curious about learning—a major service with this book.”

—Chicago Tribune

A splendid repository of ways to rethink how we teach college.”

—Los Angeles Review of Books

“A warm, humane little book—a scientifically informed reminder that even in college, students and teachers are really driven by emotion, anxiety, curiosity, and care.”

—Daniel F. Chambliss, co-author of How College Works

“Unique and compelling. Eyler brings lyrical prose and a truly fresh perspective to problems that have stubbornly persisted.”

—Michelle D. Miller, author of Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology