Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

I found this website which discusses good teaching skills (by Joseph R. Codde). What do you think are good practices for teaching/learning?


Joseph R. Codde, Ph.D., Professor and Director – Educational Technology Certificate Program, Michigan State University. Adapted from Arthur W. Chickering’s and Zelda F. Gamson’s book entitled, “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”

The following is a brief summary of the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education as compiled in a study supported by the American Association of Higher education, the Education Commission of States, and The Johnson Foundation. These Seven Principles are also presented in Chickering and Gamson’s book entitled “Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” (1991).


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.

  • I make a point to talk with my students on a personal level and learn about their educational and career goals.
  • I seek out my students who seem to be having problems with the course or miss class frequently.
  • I advise my students about career opportunities in their major field.
  • I share my past experiences, attitudes, and values with students.
  • I know my students by name.
  • I make special efforts to be available to students of a culture or race different from my own.
  • I serve as a mentor and informal advisor to 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.

  • Beginning with the first class, I have students participate in activities that encourages them to get to know each other.
  • I use collaborative teaching and learning techniques.
  • I encourage students to participate in groups when preparing for exams and working on assignments.
  • I encourage students from different races and cultures to share their viewpoints on topics discussed in class.
  • I create “learning communities,” study groups, and project teams within my courses.
  • I encourage students to join at least one organization on campus.
  • I distribute performance criteria to students so that each person’s grade is independent of those achieved by others.


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.

  • I ask students to present their work to the class.
  • I ask my students to relate outside events or activities to the subjects covered in my courses.
  • I encourage students to challenge my ideas, the ideas of other students, or those presented in readings or other course materials.
  • I give my students concrete, real-life situations to analyze.
  • I encourage students to suggest new readings, projects, or course activities.


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 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.

  • I give students immediate feedback on class activities.
  • I return exams and papers within one week.
  • I give students evaluations of their work throughout the semester.
  • I give my students written comments on their strengths and weaknesses on class assignments.
  • I discuss the results of class assignments and exams with students and the class.


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 professional 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 and administrators, and other professional staff can establish the basis for high performance for all.

  • I expect my students to complete their assignments promptly.
  • I clearly communicate to my students the minimum amount of time they should spend preparing for class and working on assignments.
  • I help students set challenging goals for their own learning.
  • I encourage students to prepare in advance for oral presentations.
  • I explain to my students the consequences of non-attendance.
  • I meet with students who fall behind to discuss their study habits, schedules, and other commitments.
  • If students miss my class, I require them to make up lost work.


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 of themselves and make extra efforts.

  • I encourage students to excel at the work they do.
  • I give students positive reinforcement for doing exemplary work.
  • I encourage students to work hard in class.
  • I tell students that everyone works at different levels and they should strive to put forth their best effort, regardless of what level that is.
  • I help students set challenging goals for their own learning.
  • I publicly call attention to excellent performance by students.
  • I revise my courses to challenge students and encourage high performance.
  • I work individually with students who are poor performers to encourage higher levels of performance.
  • I encourage students not to focus on grades, but rather on putting for their best effort.


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 in theory. Students need to 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.

  • I encourage students to speak up when they do not understand.
  • I use diverse teaching activities and techniques to address a broad range of students.
  • I select readings and design activities related to the background of my students.
  • I provide extra material or activities for students who lack essential background knowledge or skills.
  • I integrate new knowledge about women, minorities, and other under-represented populations into my courses.
  • I have developed and use learning contracts and other activities to provide students with learning alternatives for my courses.
  • I encourage students from different races and cultures to share their viewpoints on topics discussed in class.
  • I use collaborative teaching and learning techniques and pair students with lesser abilities with students with greater abilities.

SOURCE: Chickering, A.W., and Gamson, Z.F. (1991). Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Number 47, Fall 1991. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.


3 thoughts on “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

  1. I loved seeing these best practices in undergraduate teaching. I try my best to adhere to these principles while teaching. I find the first one to be the most important, “Faculty Contact.” Undergrads have so many new things to digest, beyond just the academics. I try to have conversations with all of my students so I have a better understanding of them beyond my classroom. When time allows, I like to have mid and end semester meetings in order to assess their situation and to allow them personal time from me. Especially in dance, this has been a way to uncover some immediately solvable problems as well as serious issues that need extra attention – like eating disorders.

    Reading this reminds me of the huge personal and time commitment that comes with teaching!

  2. I’ve been looking back on my notes from the past 6 weeks. Wow. It’s a lot to process, and I have a feeling those little flashes of connection will be bombarding me for some time!
    I think one of the most interesting aspects of this class for me is how wonderfully it connected with the other courses, in particular Laban and AT practicum. Each informed the other creating a solid triangulation. I’m understanding that somatics are taught more and more in technique classes, and although the clarity of connection to somatic practices in a technique class has been new for me, I was surprised and delighted to make connections with the more effective functioning ways of moving which I’ve been discovering through years of performing. The vocabulary is invaluable. As I try to create a program in a new technique, the evolution of physical “languaging” has been a bit of an enigma. Through this class I am seeing how the somatic forms we’ve been exploring can be adapted as a universal language for students of varying backgrounds to decipher an unknown and evolving technique. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for sharing the “Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”. I genuinely connected to the practices stated above, and although I never really analyzed how I teach, I actually do adhere to most of the principals. In the various undergraduate classes I teach within four universities, I find that although the levels, students, and guidelines of the school are very specific to each one, if I stick to the principles of good practice and communication, every student benefits from what I have to offer them.

    This summer taking your class has been a treat. I have not been in a modern or contemporary class other than Limon in many years and found it so refreshing! Some of the same principles were included in the class (used in exciting and different ways) and it was wonderful to revisit Irene Dowd’s work after so many years!

    I incorporate an abundance of floor work into my classes and if I could, I would spend the entire time on the floor. I do include some basic Bartenieff Fundamentals and relate that to the Limon Technique.

    I feel that I can explore how to vary the phrases much more. I enjoyed how you changed small things about each phrase for every class so it was a new challenge, although the same material. It gave me a chance to dance with a deeper kinesthetic sense yet challenged my perception of the movement . In my classes, I often change where the front is, but have never explored how to make a floor phrase travel across the room. I thought that was genius and is something I would like to explore.

    I also enjoyed how you connected AT, Laban, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Spirals, Orbits, and anatomy to technique class building on that knowledge each week. It all came together making an enormous amount of sense.

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