Annotations from Chapter 4, What the best college teachers do, Bain, 2004.

Berkeley, Sunday, November 4, 2018 10:20 PM

Chapter 4. What do the best teachers expect from their students?

As a tradition with previous chapters, I still want to write here my take-aways and annotations I remember from this chapter, although, I finished it one week ago.

Take aways:

  • Avoid stereotype a group of people of minority.
  • Trust on people, giving them the opportunity to interact in important events, important meeting or so. It will boost their talents and confidence.
  • Teaching is focused in the student, although, it sound obvious, it should not be focused in the professor ego and her/his career. Rather her/his career, likely, will be boosted, when her students are doing well in their careers.

Few annotations I highlighted:

About stereotypes:

“When victims of negative stereotypes face a task that popular prejudice says they are not very good at but that they nonetheless want to do and believe they can do, they cannot escape the shadow of the beliefs around them. If the task is particularly difficult and stressful, that pressure will trigger at least a subconscious reminder of the stereotype. if I don’t solve this problem, they might think, other people will believe the common image is true. The more they care about doing well in that domain, the more such a thought bothers them. At minimum, it distracts them; at worst. it prods them to prove the popular prejudice wrong. Either way, their awareness of the negative stereotype adds a level of anxiety that others do not face, and the resulting stress slows and harms performance, which in turn produces even more anguish, causing additional reminders, and so for.”

About time for solving assignments or tests:

Some teachers gave students take-home examinations while others gave students as long as they needed to finish the final. Most never used the common practice of counting off for late papers, but some of them certainly did. ‘I give my students control over their own lives’, one person reported. ‘If they take more time, they most realize that they are taking time away from the rest of their lives. They must develop a sense of responsibility to themselves’

Expecting more from students with low grades

In order to reduce the gap for low grades and minorities, invite “minority students into honors workshops rather than into remedial classes.”

Fundamental ideas about learning

Ralph Lynn often said, “everything you learn influences who you are and what you can do”.

Intellectual development

“Many outstanding teachers think of their courses as ways to help students to reason well and to join a conversation that flourishes among people what to do. Two questions stand at the heart of this enterprise: What reasoning abilities will students need to possess or develop to answer the questions the discipline raises? How can I cultivate the habits of mind that will lead to constant use of those intellectual skills?

In order to solve this questions, Arnold Arons (1985) presented a sequential process of for critical thinking, which entails a series of then reasoning abilities and habits of thought. Those steps are described in pages 85 to 86 in Bain (2004).

Personal development

“Paul Baker put in this way: ‘My strongest feeling about teaching us that you must begin with the student. As a teacher you do not begin to teach, thinking of your own ego and what you know… The moments of the class must belong to the students – not the students, but to the very undivided student. You don’t teach a class. You teach a student.'” (Baker, 1977)


Arons, A.B., 1985. Critical thinking and the baccalaureate curriculum. Liberal Education71(2), pp.141-157.

Bain, K., 2004. What the best college teachers do. Chapter 4. What do they expect from their students? Harvard University Press. pp. 68-97

Baker, P., 1977. Integration of abilities: exercises for creative growth. Anchorage Press. p. XIII

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