Teaching Online and the Seven Principles for Good Practice

Many technologies and online tools lend themselves to promoting good practice in teaching and learning as described by Chickering and Gamson. The table below is a brief list of examples along with links to tools that are easily available as components of Canvas here at UNTHSC.

image from http://dbctle.erau.edu/initiatives/seven/
This table is adapted from Iowa State Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.


Good Practice Online

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.

Contact information – Post Instructor and Teaching Assistant introductions, contact and bio info. Canvas pages. Video conferencing – Host online office hours and synchronous discussion. Conferencing. Personal video clips – Record and post course intro and brief clips throughout the course. Mediasite. Discussions – Facilitate threaded discussion among faculty and students. Discussion Tool.

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.

Course groups – Create groups automatically or manually, or allow students to sign up for their choice of groups for projects and assignments. Canvas Groups Profiles – Students can post profile information and control privacy settings. People tools. Discussions, journals, blogs, wikis – Share, build upon, and comment on peer participation. Collaboration tools. Video conferencing – Students can have synchronous online discussions.  Conferencing.

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.

Release of content and activities – Allow access to content and activities only when specific criteria are met, such as achieving a satisfactory grade on a previous activity. Prerequisite, Release, and Mark as complete settings. Assignment Tool – Students can publish written or oral presentations. Assignment Tool. Assessments – Students can monitor their learning mastery with self-tests. Quiz Tool. Discussions, collaboration tools, pages used as wikis – Share, build upon, and comment on peer participation. Discussion and Pages.

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.

Assessments – Control timing of release of grades and provide custom feedback for automatically-graded questions, or individually for items such as essay questions. Assessment Feedback Options. Assignments – provide feedback and extensive markup of student submissions. Grading Assignments in Canvas. Release of content and activities – Enable access to new content and activities based on acceptable performance or redirect students to remedial materials. Prerequisite, Release, and Mark as complete settings. Rubrics – Share grading criteria and levels of achievement so students can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their work and direct their efforts accordingly. Rubrics Tool.

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.

Announcements – Ensure students are reminded of the schedule of activities. Announcements Tool. Lesson Plans – Clearly articulate expectations for expected time required for specific activities. Content pages. Course Reports – Track student activity and share results with underperforming students. Course Reports in Analytics. Assignments – Include criteria in the assignment description along with anticipated time required. Assignment Tool.

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.

Rubrics – Communicate requirements for an activity, delineating criteria-based performance levels to help students direct their efforts. Rubric Tool. Lesson Plans – Clearly articulate module objectives and expectations. Content pages. Syllabus – Provide course requirements, objectives, policies, and expectations of student participation. Syllabus Tool.

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.

Course Content and Learning Activities – Follow Universal Design for Learning and provide multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. Design for Diverse Abilities. Assessments – Incorporate a variety of media and can customize time allowed and number of attempts allowed for individual students’ needs. Question Settings. Release – Release learning activities according to learning needs. Prerequisite, Release, and Mark as complete settings. Assignments – Incorporate a variety of media. Assignment Tool.

*Seven principles as identified by: Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 40(7), 3–7.