by Ken Bain
Based on the bestseller "What the Best College Teachers Do" by Ken Bain, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA: 2004.
A Systematic Approach to Teaching: Some Fundamental Questions to Define the Course Intellectually:
We cannot say that every outstanding teacher asks all of these questions when preparing a new course, but we certainly found some clear patterns:
1. What big questions will your course help students answer? Or what abilities (or qualities) will it help students develop?
2. What reasoning abilities must students have or develop to answer these questions?
3. What information will your students need to answer these questions? How will they obtain that information?
4. What paradigms of reality are students likely to bring with them that I will want them to challenge?
5. How will you help students who have difficulty understanding the questions and using evidence and reason to answer them?
6. How will you confront them with conflicting claims and encourage them to grapple (e. g., collaboratively) with the issues?
7. How will you find out what they expect from the course? How will you reconcile any differences between your plans and their interests?
8. How will you help students learn to learn, to examine and assess their own learning and thinking, and to read more effectively, analytically, and actively?
9. How will you find out how students are learning before you test them for a grade? How will you provide feedback before and separate from any grading of the student?
10. How will you communicate with students in a way that will keep them thinking?
11. How will you create a natural learning environment in which you embed the skills and information you wish to teach in assignments (questions and tasks) students will find fascinating--authentic tasks that will arouse curiosity, challenge students to rethink their assumptions and examine their mental models of reality? How will you create a safe environment in which students can try, fail, receive feedback and try again?
12. How will you spell out explicitly the intellectual standards you will be using in assessing their work and why you use those standards? How will you help students learn to assess their own work using those standards?
Indicate how you would lead the students to stand back, become conscious of the patterns of thinking and reasoning in which they have engaged, and if possible, connect this experience with experiences they have had in other courses.
13. How will you know when students are able to do what you want them to be able to do intellectually?
Comparing and contrasting what they hear with what they already think, asking why they should accept or reject, etc.