Bain’s (2004) Approach to What Makes a Great Statistics Professor

We continue with talking about what makes a great statistics professor, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about THE book on great teaching: “What the Best College Teachers Do” by Ken Bain (2004).  I have previously written about Bains approach to teaching, when talking about how to help students master the concepts of statistics Now, I would like to briefly review Bain’s points on what makes a great teacher, though I highly encourage you to add this book to your own personal collection. Chance are your school’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning has a copy for you to borrow. Reading this book might be a great way to “refresh” between semesters.

Under each of  Bain’s points, I am including links to prior blogs that review each of these components. Briefly,according to Bain the best teachers:

1. Know their stuff … they know the material that they are teaching, and they know it well … plus, they know about teaching and how students learn.

2. Actively and intentionally prepare to teach.

I suppose this entire blog is dedicated to getting applied statistics professors to think about teaching, and to help them prepare. Everything from designing a syllabus (e.g., to identifying areas where students are more likely to have challenges (e.g., or Ultimately, great teachers approach teaching with the same gusto they approach scholarship.

3. Expect more of their students.

Professors who expect more from students, have students who simply learn more Sure, there are times when we all want to nash our teeth and clench our fists, as we wonder … what is going on in their heads … but in the end, students are more likely to be successful when teachers hold high expectation, and communicate it explicitly and implicitly.

4. Create a creative and critical learning environment.

This is covered well by Bain, and reviewed in this blog  Of course, focusing on the concepts of statistics and the application of them goes a long way at creating a creative and critical learning environment:

5. Trust that students want to learn, and treat students with decency.

One of the most read blogs on Statistic Sage addresses the idea of simply being decent with students:

6. Assess student learning continuously, and are continually conducting self evaluation.

This can be done directly   AND indirectly

Though no one is perfect, striving towards excellence in teaching is always time well spent.


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Filed under Engaging students, Maximizing Cognitive Development, Pedagogy

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