AAHE Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

The AAHE Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, were authored by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson and first published in the Bulletin of the American Association for Higher Education in March 1987. The Seven Principles provides focused guidelines for improving teaching and learning. (The full text can be found at the AAHE website http://aahebulletin.com/public/archive/sevenprinciples1987.asp)

  1. Good Practice Encourages Contacts Between Students and Faculty
    Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of class is a 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 plans.
  2. Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and 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 ideas and responding to others’ improves thinking and deepens understanding.
  3. Good Practice Uses Active Learning Techniques
    Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively 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 your learning. In getting started, students need help in assessing their existing knowledge and competence. Then, in classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive feedback on their performance. At various points during college, and at its end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how they might assess themselves.
  5. Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
    Time plus energy equals learning. Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike. Allocating realistic amounts of time means effective learning for students and effective teaching for faculty.
  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.
  7. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
    Many roads lead to learning. Different students bring different talents and styles to college. Brilliant students in a seminar might be all thumbs in a lab or studio; students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need opportunities 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.”

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