7 Teaching Principles

Table of Contents

What are the 7 Teaching Principles?

One of the most cited guidelines for teaching learners in higher education is the 7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.  Published by Chickering and Gamson in the 1980s, these principles still hold as effective tenants in improving undergraduate education, despite the expansion in educational environments.  Arguably, they may have become even more important in the COVID-19 era as higher education institutions have abruptly shifted from in-person classrooms to full or semi-virtual environments. Interactions that occur naturally in-person must be strategically developed in the online environment. Collectively, these principles employ the forces of activity, cooperation, diversity, expectations, interaction, and responsibility. A working knowledge of the seven principles is beneficial to administrators, teachers, and students alike.  

How are they used?

The first principle encourages contact between students and faculty. This principle is based on the idea that motivation and involvement promote student learning. Therefore, connections between faculty and students encourages intellectual commitment. Strategic plans to have meaningful interactions, whether through live communications such as Teams, Skype, or even a discussion board between the instructor and student throughout course delivery will motivate student learning.

The second principle develops reciprocity and cooperation among students. Learning should be collaborative and social and not isolated in form. Instructional activities, such as group discussion or group assignments, allow learners to share their ideas with other peers in the learning process.

The third principle promotes active learning techniques. This guideline discourages passive learning assignments and encourages instructors to employ strategies that require learners to talk, write, or apply their learning in some method. Active Learning Techniques may occur in the form of team projects, peer evaluations, or other activities that allow learners to apply knowledge.  

The fourth principle requires the instructor to provide prompt feedback to students. Feedback identifies areas of strength and weakness and gives the learner suggestions for improvement. When given frequently enough, students can begin to identify flaws or problems in their learning process and improve their own learning. Feedback can, and should, be given on any assignment that assesses the learner’s knowledge.  

The fifth principle emphasizes time on task. Time management is a critical component of a student’s success. Providing them with a guide as to how much time activities require will assist them with planning for success. Instructors may provide a description as to how long each activity will take learners to complete.

The sixth principle requires the instructor to communicate high expectations to students. Students who are unprepared will likely suffer academically. Instructors should communicate the prerequisite knowledge required to be successful in learning new concepts to learners and how knowledgeable they are expected to become in the process.  

The seventh and final principle requires the instructor to respect the diverse talents and ways of learning that the student body has to offer. Learners vary in the way that they absorb information, and instructional material should be diverse to appeal to a variety of learners. For example, readings alone would only serve as one method of learning.  An instructor could also provide supplemental visuals, videos, or audio instructions for learners who may need another form of engagement.

Resources & Further Training

7 Teaching Principles [DLI Microlearning] 

Seven Principles for Good Teaching from The University of Tennessee Chattanooga 

Arbaugh, J. B. B. & Hornik, S. (2006). Do chickering and gamson’s seven principles also apply to online mbas? Journal of Educators Online, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.9743/jeo.2006.2.2 

Caboni, T., Mundy, M., & Duesterhaus, M. (2002). The implications of the norms of undergraduate college students for faculty enactment of principles of good practice in undergraduate education. Peabody Journal of Education, 77(3), 125-137. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1493279