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Good Practices in Undergraduate Education Cheat Sheet by

Good Practices in Educating Undergraduates
education     good     practices     undergraduate     benchmarks


The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Underg­raduate Education grew out of a review of 50 years of research on the way teachers teach and students learn (Chick­ering and Gamson, 1987, p. 1) and a conference that brought together a distin­guished group of resear­chers and commen­tators on higher education.

The primary goal of the Princi­ples’ authors was to identify practices, policies, and instit­utional conditions that would result in a powerful and enduring underg­raduate education (Sorci­nelli, 1991, p. 13).

Principles for Good Practice

1. Encourage Contact Between Students and Faculty: 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. Develop Recipr­ocity and Cooper­ation Among Studen­ts. 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. Encourage 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. Give Prompt Feedba­ck: 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. Emphasize 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 of high perfor­mance for all.
6. Commun­icate 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. Respect 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 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.

NSSE Benchmarks

Five Benchmarks for Student Engagement

1. Level of Academic Challenge: Challe­nging intell­ectual and creative work is central to student learning and collegiate quality. Colleges and univer­sities promote high levels of student achiev­ement by setting high expect­ations for student perfor­mance.
2. Student Intera­ctions with Faculty Members Students learn firsthand how experts think about and solve practical problems by intera­cting with faculty members inside and outside the classroom. As a result, their teachers become role models, mentors, and guides for contin­uous, life-long learning.
3. Active and Collab­orative Learning: Students learn more when they are intens­ively involved in their education and are asked to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings. Collab­orating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult material prepares student to deal with the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily, both during and after college.
4. Enriching Educat­ional Experi­enc­es: Comple­mentary learning opport­unities inside and outside the classroom augment the academic program. Experi­encing diversity teaches students valuable things about themselves and other cultures. Used approp­ria­tely, technology facili­tates learning and promotes collab­oration between peers and instru­ctors. Intern­ships, community service, and senior capstone courses provide students with opport­unities to synthe­size, integrate, and apply their knowledge. Such experi­ences make learning more meaningful and, ultima­tely, more useful because what students know becomes a part of who they are.
5. Pitsto­pSu­ppo­rtive Campus Enviro­nment: Students perform better and are more satisfied at colleges that are committed to their success and cultivate positive working and social relations among different groups on campus.
Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson
Adopted from the March 1987 AAHE Bulletin

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