The Seven Principles
By: Dawn M. Ford
It was in 1987 when Chickering and Gamson wrote about the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Years later, those principles still hold up, so it’s good to review them every now and again to keep us fresh.
Principle one is that contact between students and faculty should be encouraged. It’s important that students know that faculty care about them. How can that be encouraged? We can provide multiple ways in which students can reach us – email, phone, office hours – and of course, we should be responsive. We can arrive to class early and stay late to encourage interaction with our students. Principle two is that reciprocity and cooperation among students should be cultivated. Deep and meaningful learning happens when students work as teams. Otherwise, what’s the point of all of them being in the same room at the same time? See my blog about team-based learning to learn more about using the team approach for student learning. Principle three – encourage active learning. I always remember the saying that learning is not a spectator sport. From day one, engage students in course content through writing, discussion, application, etc. They learn more by doing. Principle four is to give prompt feedback. I’m reminded of faculty who talk about students who do poorly on an end-of-semester research paper. When I ask them what writing assignments came before the research paper, usually there were none. We need to give students the opportunity to practice skills that we want them to develop and give them prompt feedback so they can improve over the course the semester. Okay, principle five is time on task, which is related to principle four. Time management for students can be challenging, and we can help them by giving and adhering to deadlines and modeling good time management skills ourselves. Principle six is to communicate high expectations. Expect more, and we will get it, expect less, and we will get that too! Set expectations on the first day of class, it’s a good way to create a community of learning. Principle seven…respect diverse talents and ways of learning. I think we realize that students are different. We can teach two sections of the same course back-to-back and the class sessions will go completely different. We need to be flexible and adjust our teaching to accommodate students so that we accomplish what we set out to do.
UF Center for Instructional Technology and Training. (2012). Chickering and Gamson 4 rules for undergraduate education. Retrieved from http://citt.ufl.edu/tools/chickering-and-gamson-7-rules-for-undergraduate-education/.
UNC Charlotte Center for Teaching and Learning. (2013). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Retrieved from http://teaching.uncc.edu/articles-books/best-practice-articles/instructional-methods/7-principles.