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Best Practice and College Teaching: If it Matters, How do WE do it Better?
Unformatted Document Text:  Tom Drummond (2002) compiled a summary of what he called Best Practices in Teaching: “These elements represent the broad range of the most effective actions teachers take, and requisite conditions teachers establish, to facilitate learning.” Among the twelve categories of teaching strategies that he discusses are “Lecture Practices,” “Group Discussion Triggers,” and “Cooperative Group Assignments.” Drummond’s compilation conveys the complex nature of college teaching and the numerous pedagogical options available. For example, the collection of eight strategies to enhance student understanding under “Lecture Practices” are valuable empirically supported concepts that we used to reflect on our own practice. Ken Bain (2004) reported on a study he and others conducted throughout the decade of the 1990’s. During this time, exceptional college teachers were ‘nominated’ as candidates for the study. These were candidates whose peers and students perceived them as teachers who fostered remarkable learning. “All candidates entered the study on probation until we had sufficient evidence that their approaches fostered remarkable learning” (p.183). The researchers identified sixty-three different teachers and began the process of collecting information from and about the candidates through formal and informal interviews, public presentations or written discussions of their ideas about teaching, syllabi, assignment sheets, observations of their teaching and more. After this process was completed, the author defined six findings that seem to be common to these extraordinary teachers. The practices are complex, but fit broadly under the ‘constructivist’ umbrella. C. Contribution Strand V – Discerning Quality – begins by stating that teacher education programs are being threatened by two current trends: 1) eroding trust between and within schools, colleges and departments of education, and 2) the emergence of multiple providers who have entered the teacher preparation field; with many now offering quick routes to licensure. We are addressing this strand by asserting that we can only gain trust and compete with other providers by providing best quality educational outcomes for our own learners. We believe – and argue that our reputations as teachers matter. Regardless of political debates on the direction of schooling, we can make the best happen by being the best teachers and by providing our learners with what Ken Bain calls, “remarkable learning.” Providing quality builds trust. Providing remarkable learning experiences for our students – and teaching them to help their students gain remarkable learning experiences will give us the greatest assurance that what we do make a difference. D. Relevance This roundtable will relate to the following perspectives: using qualitative or quantitative evidence to inform policy or practice, and successful (exemplary) practices. We are in the process of developing a questionnaire derived from Bain’s six practices of good college teaching that will help us discern if our practices are being perceived as fostering remarkable learning experiences. This is a quantitative measure and will be validated and refined over time. This measure, as well as our course assessments (student responses at term’s end) will provide evidence that will continue to inform our practice. As we receive feedback and adopt more exemplary teaching practices our own success will in turn influence our students’ teaching as they enter the field.

Authors: Benedict, Richard (Rick)., Wood, Stewart. and Obsniuk, Karen.
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Tom Drummond (2002) compiled a summary of what he called Best Practices in
Teaching: “These elements represent the broad range of the most effective actions teachers
take, and requisite conditions teachers establish, to facilitate learning.” Among the twelve
categories of teaching strategies that he discusses are “Lecture Practices,” “Group Discussion
Triggers,” and “Cooperative Group Assignments.” Drummond’s compilation conveys the
complex nature of college teaching and the numerous pedagogical options available. For
example, the collection of eight strategies to enhance student understanding under “Lecture
Practices” are valuable empirically supported concepts that we used to reflect on our own
practice.
Ken Bain (2004) reported on a study he and others conducted throughout the decade of
the 1990’s. During this time, exceptional college teachers were ‘nominated’ as candidates for
the study. These were candidates whose peers and students perceived them as teachers who
fostered remarkable learning. “All candidates entered the study on probation until we had
sufficient evidence that their approaches fostered remarkable learning” (p.183). The
researchers identified sixty-three different teachers and began the process of collecting
information from and about the candidates through formal and informal interviews, public
presentations or written discussions of their ideas about teaching, syllabi, assignment sheets,
observations of their teaching and more. After this process was completed, the author defined
six findings that seem to be common to these extraordinary teachers. The practices are
complex, but fit broadly under the ‘constructivist’ umbrella.
C. Contribution
Strand V – Discerning Quality – begins by stating that teacher education programs are being
threatened by two current trends: 1) eroding trust between and within schools, colleges and
departments of education, and 2) the emergence of multiple providers who have entered the
teacher preparation field; with many now offering quick routes to licensure. We are addressing
this strand by asserting that we can only gain trust and compete with other providers by
providing best quality educational outcomes for our own learners. We believe – and argue that
our reputations as teachers matter. Regardless of political debates on the direction of
schooling, we can make the best happen by being the best teachers and by providing our
learners with what Ken Bain calls, “remarkable learning.” Providing quality builds trust.
Providing remarkable learning experiences for our students – and teaching them to help their
students gain remarkable learning experiences will give us the greatest assurance that what we
do make a difference.
D. Relevance
This roundtable will relate to the following perspectives: using qualitative or quantitative
evidence to inform policy or practice, and successful (exemplary) practices. We are in the
process of developing a questionnaire derived from Bain’s six practices of good college
teaching that will help us discern if our practices are being perceived as fostering remarkable
learning experiences. This is a quantitative measure and will be validated and refined over
time. This measure, as well as our course assessments (student responses at term’s end) will
provide evidence that will continue to inform our practice. As we receive feedback and adopt
more exemplary teaching practices our own success will in turn influence our students’ teaching
as they enter the field.


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