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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Seven Principles of Good Practices in Teaching and Learning

As part of the teaching and learning community, you might have pondered about what may be considered as good practices of teaching and learning in higher education. Here is what Chickering and Gamson (1991) have distilled from the past 50 year of literature on teaching and learning. The seven principles of good practice in teaching and learning are

“1. Encourages Contact Between Students and Faculty (constructive and collaborative)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. Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students (constructive and collaborative)Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort that 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 sharpens thinking and deepens understanding.

3. Encourages Active Learning (engaged/active learning)

Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by 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. Gives Prompt Feedback (reflective)

Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses learning. Students need appropriate feedback on performance to benefit from courses. When 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. Emphasizes Time on Task (self-directed)

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 of high performance for all.

6. Communicates High Expectations (self-directed)

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. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning (reflective)

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 with theory. Students need the opportunity to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learn in new ways that do not come so easily.”

From http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/7princip.htm

Reference: Chickering, A.W., and Gamson, Z.F. (1991). Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Number 47, Fall 1991. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.

The basis of these 7 principles is that learning is constructive, collaborative, self-directed, active/engaged and reflective.

Ok, so we know that these are the good practices. As faculty, how do we incorporate these good practices in our teaching? Joseph R. Codde, Ph.D., Professor and Director – Educational Technology Certificate Program of Michigan State University provides exemplars of strategies he uses in his teaching. Read through for some ideas that you can incorporate as well.

1.    GOOD PRACTICE ENCOURAGES STUDENT — FACULTY CONTACT

  • I know my students by name.
  • I make a point to talk with my students on a personal level and learn about their educational and career goals.
  • I seek out my students who seem to be having problems with the course or miss class frequently.
  • I advise my students about career opportunities in their major field.
  • I share my past experiences, attitudes, and values with students.
  • I serve as a mentor and informal advisor to students. 

2.     GOOD PRACTICE ENCOURAGES COOPERATION AMONG STUDENTS

  • Beginning with the first class, I have students participate in activities that encourage them to get to know each other.
  • I use collaborative teaching and learning techniques.
  • I encourage students to participate in groups when preparing for exams and working on assignments.
  • I create “learning communities,” study groups, and project teams within my courses.
  • I serve as a mentor and informal advisor to students. 

 3.     GOOD PRACTICE COMMUNICATES HIGH EXPECTATIONS

  • I encourage students to excel at the work they do.
  • I give students positive reinforcement for doing exemplary work.
  • I encourage students to work hard in class.
  • I tell students that everyone works at different levels and they should strive to put forth their best effort, regardless of what level that is.
  • I help students set challenging goals for their own learning.
  • I publicly call attention to excellent performance by students.
  • I revise my courses to challenge students and encourage high performance.
  • I work individually with students who are poor performers to encourage higher levels of performance.
  • I encourage students not to focus on grades, but rather on putting for their best effort. 

4.   GOOD PRACTICE EMPHASIZES TIME ON TASK

  • I expect my students to complete their assignments promptly.
  • I clearly communicate to my students the minimum amount of time they should spend preparing for class and working on assignments.
  • I help students set challenging goals for their own learning.
  • I encourage students to prepare in advance for oral presentations.
  • I meet with students who fall behind to discuss their study habits, schedules, and other commitments.
  • If students miss my class, I require them to make up lost work. 

 5.     GOOD PRACTICE ENCOURAGES ACTIVE LEARNING

  • I ask students to present their work to the class.
  • I ask my students to relate outside events or activities to the subjects covered in my courses.
  • I encourage students to challenge my ideas, the ideas of other students, or those presented in readings or other course materials.
  • I give my students concrete, real-life situations to analyze.
  • I encourage students to suggest new readings, projects, or course activities. 

 6.     GOOD PRACTICE ENCOURAGES ACTIVE LEARNING

  • I give students immediate feedback on class activities.
  • I return exams and papers within one week/given time period for marking.
  • I give students evaluations of their work throughout the semester.
  • I give my students written comments on their strengths and weaknesses on class assignments.
  • I discuss the results of class assignments and exams with students and the class. 

 7.     GOOD PRACTICE RESPECTS DIVERSE TALENTS AND WAYS OF LEARNING

  • I encourage students to speak up when they do not understand.
  • I use diverse teaching activities and techniques to address a broad range of students.
  • I select readings and design activities related to the background of my students.
  • I provide extra material or activities for students who lack essential background knowledge or skills.
  • I integrate new knowledge about women, minorities, and other under-represented populations into my courses.
  • I have developed and use learning contracts and other activities to provide students with learning alternatives for my courses.
  • I encourage students from different races and cultures to share their viewpoints on topics discussed in class.
  • I use collaborative teaching and learning techniques and pair students with lesser abilities with students with greater abilities. 

 Reference: Joseph R. Codde, Michigan State University. https://www.msu.edu/user/coddejos/seven.htm

I had first published  this article as on an e-Post at SIM univeristy.

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