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Teaching & Advising > Getting Started - The First Week of Class

Some Fundamentals of Good Teaching Practice

During the 1980s, a study sponsored by the American Association for Higher Education, the Education Commission of the States, and the Johnson Foundation determined that the most important aspects of effective teaching practice could be summed up in seven points. To help you gain a fresh perspective as the Fall term commences, we have reproduced these points below.

  1. Good Practice Encourages 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. Good Practice Encourages 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. Good Practice Encourages 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. Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback
    Knowing what you know and don't know focuses learning. Students need appropriate feedback on performance 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 university, 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. Good Practice Emphasizes 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. Good Practice Communicates High Expectations
    Expect more and you will get it. 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. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
    There are many roads to learning. People bring different talents and types 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 learning in new ways that do not come so easily.

From The Jossey-Bass publication - Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering/Gamson, 91).

"Study is a specific kind of experience in which through careful observation of objective structures we cause thought processes to move in a certain way . . . When done with concentration, perception and repetition, ingrained habits of thought are formed."
-Richard Foster; Celebration of Discipline