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Required reading for anyone who aspires to excellence in teaching
on August 19, 2016
I suspect that most instructors who will read this book already possess much of the wisdom contained in its pages—and that’s fine. Who doesn’t benefit from positive affirmation of good habits and effective practice? But this volume doesn’t pretend to be a “how-to” manual or the academic equivalent of “Teaching for Dummies.” Instead of providing concrete advice or recipes for good teaching, Bain distills the wisdom and methodology of the most highly effective college instructors into a clear and focused analysis of approaches to teaching that yield the best results.
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.