What the Best College Teachers Do

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Overview

Winner of the Virginia and Warren Stone Prize, Awarded Annually by Harvard University Press for an Outstanding Book on Education and Society 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 trove of insight and inspiration for first-year teachers and seasoned educators.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

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.
— Vanessa Bush

Teacher Magazine

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

Christian Century

It combines a robust theoretical framework grounded in the latest scholarship, the wisdom of best practices, and a unique depiction of how successful educators think about their teaching.
— Paul Keim

APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy

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

Richard Light
Reading this book is a joy. Ken Bain has conducted years of careful research on a variety of campuses, and the result is an inspirational summary of what teachers do that truly makes a difference in students' lives, and what any teacher can do to improve. As a teacher myself, I found I couldn't put this book down.
Booklist - Vanessa Bush
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.
Teacher Magazine - David Ruenzel
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.
Christian Century - Paul Keim
It combines a robust theoretical framework grounded in the latest scholarship, the wisdom of best practices, and a unique depiction of how successful educators think about their teaching.
APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy - David E. Leary
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.
Chronicle of Higher Education - James M. Lang
It remains for me the single most inspiring and thought-provoking work in the field. Bain's deep analysis of the teaching attitudes and practices of a small cohort of outstanding teachers, buttressed by research from the learning sciences and narrated in lively prose, provides multiple models for college educators to reflect upon, discuss, and emulate. Nine years after its initial publication, it continues to stimulate my own continuing meditations on teaching.
Library Journal
For more than 25 years, college faculty have questioned how to become more effective teachers. Much of the support for their efforts to improve has come from centers for teaching excellence such as those that Bain has directed at institutions including Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, and New York University. Drawing on interviews with more than 60 exemplary college teachers from a number of disciplines and a variety of institutions, Bain identifies personal characteristics, pedagogical practices, assessment techniques, and other individual and institutional elements that can help anyone with a commitment to teaching and learning to become a more effective college teacher. In works such as Improving College Teaching and Learner-Centered Teaching, Maryellen Weimer has addressed the popular "myth" that good teachers are "born, not made." Like Weimer, Bain demonstrates that disciplined attention to relevant research and to effective practice can help scholars in any field become better teachers. Providing insight into how teachers can help students demonstrate significant gains in learning in a variety of ways, this volume will be of interest to any member of the college faculty. Recommended for all academic collections.-Scott Walter, Washington State Univ., Pullman Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013254
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2004
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 90,800
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Bain is Professor of History and former Provost at the University of the District of Columbia.
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Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction: Defining the Best
  • 2. What Do They Know about How We Learn?
  • 3. How Do They Prepare to Teach?
  • 4. What Do They Expect of Their Students?
  • 5. How Do They Conduct Class?
  • 6. How Do They Treat Their Students?
  • 7. How Do They Evaluate Their Students and Themselves?
  • Epilogue: What Can We Learn from Them?
  • Appendix: How the Study Was Conducted
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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Customer Reviews

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    Posted March 11, 2014

    I thoroughly enjoyed the stories in this book.

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