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Seven Principles of Good Practice

1.  Student-Faculty Contact

Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement.  Faculty concern helps students get through rough times and keep on working.  Knowing a few faculty members well enhances students’ intellectual commitment and encourages them to think about their own values and future plans.

2. Cooperation Among Students

Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race.  Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated.  Working with others often increases involvement in learning.  Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to others’ reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding.

3. Active Learning

Learning is not a spectator sport.  Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers.  They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives.  They must make what they learn part of themselves.

4. Prompt and Appropriate Feedback

Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning.  Students need appropriate feedback on performances to benefit from courses.  In getting started, students need help in assessing existing knowledge and competence.  In classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive suggestions for improvement.  At various points during college and at the end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how to assess themselves.

5. Time on Task

Time plus energy equals learning.  There is no substitute for time on task.  Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike.  Students need help in learning effective time management.  Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and effective teaching for faculty.  How an institution defines time expectations for students, faculty, administrators and other professional staff can establish the basis for high performance for all.

6. High Expectations

Expect more and you will get more.  High expectations are important for everyone -- for the poorly prepared, for those unwilling to exert themselves, and for the bright and well motivated.  Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations for themselves and make extra efforts.  

7. Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

There are many roads to learning.  People bring different talents and styles of learning to college.  Brilliant students in the seminar room may be all thumbs in the lab or art studio.  Students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well in theory.  Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them.  Then they can be pushed to learning in new ways that do not come so easily.

Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson, AAHE Bull., Mar. 1987.