- Hardcover: 207 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (April 30, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674013255
- ISBN-13: 978-0674013254
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What the Best College Teachers Do 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Bains sound and scholarly yet exuberant promotion of Americas "best college teachers" abounds with jaunty anecdotes and inspiring opinions that make student-centered instruction look not only infectious, but downright imperative. Teachers may enjoy the books plummy examples from their peers interdisciplinary curriculasuch as the Harvard chemistry professor whose "lesson on polymers becomes the story of how the development of nylons influenced the outcome of World War II" or the U Penn art professor whose computer game allows students to determine the authenticity of a questionable Rembrandt. Bains most compelling arguments, however, concern the quirks and motivations of todays college students. Though he acknowledges nationwide trends toward grade inflation, he invokes a 1990 study that suggests students are most driven by "high demands" and prefer "plentiful opportunities to revise and improve their work before it receives a grade." Likewise, the book argues that, even in the cutthroat climate of todays competitive colleges, students thrive best in cooperative classrooms. The best teachers, Bain avers, understand and exceed such expectations, and use them to create "natural critical learning environments." Easy-to-follow headingssuch as "Start with the Students Rather Than the Discipline"help readers learn to create such environments, too. Inspiring though this slender book will be for college teachers at all levels, it may also delight the general reader with nostalgic reminders of their finest classroom experiences.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
With the strong conviction that good teaching can be learned, and after 15 years of observing teachers in action, Bain undertook an exploration of the essentials of effective teaching. The result is an insightful look at what makes a great teacher, based on a study of three dozen teachers from a cross section of disciplines from medical-school faculties to undergraduate departments. After interviewing students and colleagues, observing classrooms and laboratories, and examining course materials from syllabi to lecture notes, Bain concludes that the quality of teaching is measured not by whether students pass exams but whether they retain the material to such an extent that it influences their thoughts and actions. Bain focuses on what the best teachers know and understand about their subject matter as well as the learning process; how they prepare; what they expect of their students; how they treat students; and how they evaluate student progress. Although this book is aimed at teachers, it is a thoughtful and valuable resource for students and parents as well. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
To no one’s surprise, it turns out that an instructor’s beliefs about teaching, learning, and students’ potential have a profound impact on that instructor’s effectiveness. Bain first establishes what he means by outstanding teaching (“helping students learn in ways that made a sustained, substantial, and positive influence on how those students think, act, and feel”). It’s important to note the three dimensions of learning alluded to here—thought, behavior, and affect. All aspects are essential for meaningful teaching and learning.
Bain then discusses, in lucid and enlightening detail, how the best instructors prepare, what they expect of their students, how they teach, how they interact with students, and how they assess their students and themselves. Both beginning teachers and veterans will benefit from his analysis. And those readers who are not teachers will come away with an appreciation for the complexity of the profession, which is part art, part craft, and part science.
When I purchased this book, I thought it was a simple "cookbook" to highlight the best practices. To my pleasant surprise, it is not. It is extremely well written and organised, and deceptively easy to read as it is filled with anecdotes. However, it is jam packed with valuable advice/practices which require insight and experience to fully appreciate. The book nevertheless puts forth convincing arguments as to why each practice is worthy of your consideration.
The book also challenged, motivated, and convinced me to think about my teaching in ways many books don't (with the exception of another equally wonderful but complementary book by Susan Ambrose: How Learning Works). All of my best practices (some discovered by accident, and most from students' feedback) are highlighted in this book. How I wished I had read this book before I started teaching, it would have saved me from much grief and frustration. More importantly, since this book distills the best practices from many great teachers, I find myself fulfilling only a fraction of what a great teacher should be. The good news is, teaching can be learned, if one is willing to. My understanding of what teaching and learning means has been greatly expanded, and my students are reaping the benefits even now.
One final note: though this book contains the best practices, it only has scant references to studies on the best teaching and learning practices by leading educational psychologists (experts who know how our brains are wired to learn). Nevertheless, practices highlighted in this book reflect major conclusions reported in educational journals. As such, for in-depth understanding of why certain practices work at the cognitive and emotional level, I recommend you get the book by Susan Ambrose: How Learning Works, which summarizes the most important findings on learning by researchers. I find both books complement each other nicely.
All the best in nurturing the next generation!
EDIT: After reading through some of the negative comments from reviewers, I am compelled to reiterate the following: This book is deceptively easy to read, but is filled with practical, life changing advice. For example, a common problem in learning is what Bain termed the plug and chug learning. Students absorb info and regurgitate it during exams resulting in shallow learning (and many teachers are responsible for this). How do we overcome this problem? Bain condensed 7 extremely good methods to overcome this problem (applicable in small class settings or in lecture halls) -- on the last paragraph of pg. 41! Only a single paragraph! And you see this pattern repeated many times over. Therefore, please read with attention to details and get ready when the "gems" pop up. It took me 4 days to complete a single chapter because I had to constantly understand, review and, more importantly, reflect upon what I have read.