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 https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/more-than-calculations-guiding-students-to-thinking-with-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., https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/backward-design-and-syllabus-formation/) to identifying areas where students are more likely to have challenges (e.g., https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/difficult-concepts-research-hypotheses-vs-statistical-hypotheses/ or https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/difficult-concepts%e2%80%94degrees-of-freedom/) 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 http://nsse.iub.edu/institute/documents/briefs/DEEP%20Practice%20Brief%206%20What%20Faculty%20Members%20Can%20Do.pdf. 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 https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/more-than-calculations-guiding-students-to-thinking-with-statistics/. 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: https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/concepts-or-computations/.
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: https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/want-to-engage-students-dont-be-an-idiot/
6. Assess student learning continuously, and are continually conducting self evaluation.
This can be done directly https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/evaluating-the-teacher/ AND indirectly https://statisticalsage.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/the-texas-two-step-indirect-and-informal-assessment/.
Though no one is perfect, striving towards excellence in teaching is always time well spent.