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What the Best College Teachers Do [Hardcover]

Ken Bain
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 2004 0674013255 978-0674013254 1
What makes a great teacher great? Who are the professors students remember long after graduation? This book, the conclusion of a fifteen-year study of nearly one hundred college teachers in a wide variety of fields and universities, offers valuable answers for all educators. The short answer is - it's not what teachers do, it's what they understand. Lesson plans and lecture notes matter less than the special way teachers comprehend the subject and value human learning. Whether historians or physicists, in El Paso or St. Paul, the best teachers know their subjects inside and out - but they also know how to engage and challenge students and to provoke impassioned responses. Most of all, they believe two things fervently: that teaching matters and that students can learn. In stories both humorous and touching, Bain describes examples of ingenuity and compassion, of students' discoveries of new ideas and the depth of their own potential. What the Best College Teachers Do is a treasure throve of insight and inspiration for first-year teachers and seasoned educators.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (7 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674013255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674013254
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.1 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Bain, a historian and director of New York University's Center for Teaching Excellence, studied 63 outstanding college teachers (as deemed by students and colleagues as well as by an examination of their students' work) from diverse institutions in an attempt to identify their common traits. What he discovered is pertinent to all teachers, including those at the K-12 level." -- David Ruenzel, Teacher Magazine, 1st May 2004

" Ken Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do has generated considerable buzz, and rightly so. Based on a careful study of 60 outstanding teachers from a variety of disciplines and institutions, it distills valuable lessons that warrant the consideration of anyone who wishes to be more effective in drawing students into the life of the mind...[Readers] will find its various discussions to be uncommonly well grounded and uncommonly inspiring." --David E. Leary, APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy, 1st September 2007

About the Author

Ken Bain is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful read for new lecturers 15 Nov 2012
By Easterchick VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am currently studying for a PGCertHE as a new-ish University lecturer, so I am currently very interested in anything related to HE teaching. One thing which is always a challenge as a new HE lecturer is that often you do things with your students which you feel work, but don't always understand WHY they work.

I'm at the stage in my career where I lap up any 'how to do it' advice from experienced and well-respected lecturers. I want to be an inspirational teacher, and I want someone to tell me how to become one ;-) There were some differences between the US and UK educational systems, and some of the terminology was unfamiliar - however most of the time I got the 'gist'.

I found the layout of the book quite old-fashioned; few images, diagrams or pictures, and mostly laid over to text. Given that the author says that the best teachers are able to take account of different learning styles, I would have hoped he had followed his own advice here.

However, there was plenty of received wisdom here from a man who has clearly been inspirational to many, and that's good enough for me. He adds value to his comments by including opinions from other Professors across the US.

In my opinion, there is the potential for this book to be successful in the UK market - but it'd do better here if the format and layout were reworked and terminology were made slightly more British.
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By M. W. Hatfield VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Some good stuff in here- but this is ONLY really for University lecturers,and,maybe HE colege teachers. I'd argue the advice doesn't even work for FE teachers in the main. It's sound and reasonably well-written, but not practical enough to be a manual, witty enough to be entertainment, or thorough enough to be an academic treatise. There's n othing wrong with it-but I don't really see a true audience for it. If you DO want a manual on teaching, go for Phil Beadle's "How To Teach"-it's funny, inspirational and has replicable ideas and advice. If you are looking at this book based on the title, go get Beadle's book instead. That will deliver what this book promises. I think if you get this book, you WILL be disappointed....
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By Andrew Dalby VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The book presents a long term academic study of what the best university teachers do in the US system. While the evidence is collected from US institutions there are obvious parallels with the UK system. Here we have Oxbridge and not the Ivy League, we have the selective red-brick universities and the less selective post-1992 universities. What makes good teaching is the same both sides of the Atlantic and the author has carried out a very careful and selective study to focus on student learning.

There are a lot of good suggestions in the book and it does provide a "blueprint" for developing university teaching. But it does not present a quick solution, because there never can be. Each class is different and so this is not a book of tools or case studies. This takes the approach at a higher level to produce teachers who can develop as they have to react to each new intake. This is exactly the approach taken by my qualification in teaching in Higher Education, but this does not appeal to all lecturers as some on the course were left frustrated by the lack of concrete advice, and instant solutions.

This is quite a complex book and it is certainly not an easy read but it is not as impenetrable as much of the primary education literature. I think that it is a good addition to any new lecturer's bookshelf and it should be read by all Deans, Heads of Department and Heads of Teaching Committees. Why? Because this is what we should be doing, we need to appreciate the scholarship of university teaching more, but it is going to take a while to get there.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What they do and don't do 12 Nov 2012
By Phill Lister VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an accessible book based on rigorous research. It's not a book with details of specific methods or "How To"s, but the author is very clear about what the best college teachers don't do.

They don't treat education as being about cramming knowledge and facts until benchmarks are met - a stereotypical transmission approach. But they also don't treat education as being about setting students tasks to do which hopefully help them learn for themselves - a stereotypical process approach.

The best teachers use their own knowledge, understanding and uncertainties of their subject to help students get to know the topics from the inside. They adapt to individual learners and set tasks which help the students to own their own learning.

There are many engaging examples of good practice in the chapters here, covering a variety of questions such as: What do they know about how we learn? How do they prepare to teach? What do they expect of their students? How do they conduct class? How do they evaluate their students and themselves?

Overall, Bain joins his voice to may others who would promote universities where learning is valorised, rather than teaching or research. But the teachers, in these many examples, are more than technocratic manipulators of students' learning experiences and processes. They are expert learners in the field themselves, working alongside students in a joint enterprise.

An engaging and stimulating book, probably mostly of interest to those engaged in higher education and practice.
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