Annotations from Chapter 5, How do they conduct class?, Bain, 2004.

Berkeley, Tuesday December 11, 2018 10:03 PM

Bain (2004) identified seven common principles in the teachers that were part of his study.

1. Create Natural Critical Learning Environment

People tend to learn most effectively when (i) they are trying to solve problems that they find intriguing, beautiful, or important; (ii) they are able to do so in a challenging yet supportive environment in which they can feel a sense of control over their own education; (iii) they can work collaboratively with other learners to grapple with the problems; (iv) they believe that their will be considered fairly and honestly; (v) they can try, fail, and receive feedback from expert learners in advance of and separate from any judgment of their efforts.

2. Get their attention and keep it

Teachers succeed in grabbing students’ attention by beginning with a provocative question or problem that raises issues in ways that students had never thought about before, or by using stimulating case studies or global-based scenarios.

3. Start with the students rather than the discipline

4. Seek commitments

Taking a class is a decision, while of course in the current system, there is a shopping time, the decision to take the class should come soon. Even without any formal or public ceremonies of commitment, highly effective teachers approach each class as if they expect students to listen, think, and respond.That expectation appears in scores of little habits: the eye contact they make, the enthusiasm in their voice, the willingness to call on students.

5. Help students learn outside of class

The analyzed professors plan class backwards deciding what students should be able to do by the end of the semester. They map a series of intellectual developments through the course, with the goal of encouraging students to learn their own, engaging them in deep thinking.

 6. Engage students in disciplinary thinking

Effective teachers use class time to help students think about information and ideas the way scholars in the discipline do. Teachers help students build an understanding of concepts rather than simply perform their discipline in front of them.

7. Create diverse learning experiences

Learning from a variety of methods

Employing the craft of teaching in the classroom

Good talk

  • Ability to communicate orally in ways that stimulate thought.
  • Read signals. A professor in the study, while conducting a seminar, knew how to ask  good questions and then how to wait patiently, even through several minutes of silence, while his students thought about their answers.
  • Change the pace/rhythm. For example every twelve minutes.
  • Foster deep thinking. Effective conversation, rather to impress the students with the professor knowledge.

Warm language

This is not to say that good teachers never use cool language. They do, but generally after their warm language brought students inside the subject, has involved them intellectually and emotionally. They use warm language to invite, to stimulate. While, they use cold language to remind, to summarize.

Making explanations

Good explanations come from people who realize that learners must construct knowledge rather than simple absorb it.

Getting students to talk

Discussion are important, and the design of the classroom and chairs could play an important role


Bain, K., 2004. What the best college teachers do. Chapter 5. How do they conduct class? Harvard University Press. pp. 98-134

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