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Course Preparation

"Fink's Five Principles of Fine Teaching"

"Good course" are courses that meet the following five criteria:

1. Challenge students to SIGNIFICANT LEARNING.

All courses require some basic level of learning, i.e., comprehending and remembering basic information and concepts. But many courses never get beyond this.

Examples of other kinds of significant learning include problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, creative thinking, interpretation, understanding, the personal and social implications of the subject, developing new interests and values, and learning how to keep on learning after the course is over.


Some learning will be "passive", i.e., reading and listening.

But the more powerful kinds of learning, almost by definition, will require active learning. One learns to solve problems by solving problems; one learns to think critically by thinking critically; etc.

3. Have teachers who CARE about: the subject, about their students, and about teaching and learning.

As the old adage says: "Students don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Students can sense whether or not their teachers cares about them and their learning, and they respond accordingly.

4. Have teachers who INTERACT WELL with students.

When teachers interact with students (in lectures, class discussions, office hours, etc.), they need to do so in a way that provides educational leadership.

The teacher needs to be seen by students as being a "credible leader," which means the teacher needs to establish his/her: competence, trustworthiness, and dynamism.


Students need frequent and immediate feedback (i.e. assessment that does not necessarily go in the grade book) on their learning, so they know whether they are learning what they should be.

In addition, even when students feel they are learning something significant, they are unhappy if their grade does not reflect this. The grading system should be: objective, reliable, based on learning, flexible, and communicated in writing.

Fink, L. D. (2006). Fink's 5 Principles of Fine Teaching. Retrieved August 6, 2008, from

More on Course Preparation...

First Day of Class
Handling Nervousness
Instructional Strategies
Preparing for Your First Class
The Syllabus