Best Practices

What are the main guiding principles of good practices in undergraduate Education?

  • A guide to Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Classroom Discussion (Your Instructor's handout.)

  • Chickering, A. W. and Z. F. Gamson. 1987. Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education was published in the (now defunct) American Association of Higher Education (AAHE). This article is a MUST-READ CLASSIC for anyone with an interest in teaching at the college level.

  • Good Practices in Undergraduate Education
    1. Encourages contacts between students and faculty.
    2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.
    3. Uses active learning techniques.
    4. Gives prompt feedback.
    5. Emphasizes time on task.
    6. Communicates high expectations.
    7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.


  • Principles of Excellence from AAC&U's LEAP initiative: Informed by a generation of innovation and by scholarly research on effective practices in teaching, learning, and curriculum, the following principles of excellence offer both challenging standards and flexible guidance for change in any college, community college, or university. They are intended to influence practice across the disciplines as well as in general education programs.

  • Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) Principles of Excellence
    1. Aim High—and Make Excellence Inclusive.
    2. Give Students a Compass.
    3. Teach the Arts of Inquiry and Innovation.
    4. Engage the Big Questions.
    5. Connect Knowledge with Choices and Action.
    6. Foster Civic, Intercultural, and Ethical Learning.
    7. Assess Students' Ability to Apply Learning to Complex Problems.


  • Engaging Student in meaningful classroom Discussion: Discussion is NOT a series of questions and answers. Discussion is NOT talking about (i.e., lecturing) without a power point presentation. Discussion is an opportunity to engage students in deepening their understanding, practical or analytical skills on a particular pre-defined body of knowledge. In that sense, discussion is a powerful teaching and learning tool. The main steps to a successful classroom discussion follow:

  • Steps and Principles in Designing Successful Classroom Discussions

    1. BEFORE CLASS:
      1. Provide students with a pre-class assignment that will define the topic and framework of the discussion (Examples: To read a conference proceeding article, to view a web-posted video, To go in a "field-trip" to visit a particular organization, etc.)
      2. Provide students with an opportunity to reflect upon and / or test their own knowledge, understanding of the facts and figures and basic information of the pre-class assignment (Examples: Pre-class assignment include an on-line quiz, or a written on-line blog (reflection) entry,  etc.). Use the power of grades to reward students who are well-prepard for class time interaction!

    2. DURING CLASS:
      1. Start an activity that will put EVERYONE on the same page, including those who did not complete the pre-class assignment (Examples: Five (well-chosen) quiz questions that go to the core of the topic - Engage students (in small or large groups) in discussing each choice of each question, Rely on the extraverted members of the class to highlight the main points of the pre-assignement material and its relevance). As students do this, "modulate" their answer and write "keywords" on the blackboard. 
      2. Go on with an activity that engages EVERYONE in analyzing, interpreting or evaluating the content of the pre-assigned material (Examples: Pair-Share, small group addressing a thought-provoking question. Quantitative assignments such as solving equations for one or more particular set of conditions). Make students compare and contrast, predict or make recommendations. Make sure students know that they need a "spoke-person" to share the outcomes of their activity with the entire class.
      3. Broaden the "discussion" to the ENTIRE CLASS by asking each group (or individuals) to present the outcomes of their small group activity. Go around as needed. As students do this, highlight for them how for example, there might be more than one "right" answer or there might be more than one way to get to the "right" answer, or there might be a need for additional data/information in order to provide an "educated answer." 
      4. Wrap-up with the "SO-WHAT"? Ten-minutes prior to the end of the period, STOP the "discussion" and make students focus their attention on the "So What"? What have we learned from the pre-assignement and the in-class discussion.  What pre-conceived ideas have we challenged during the discussion, what were the various ways to interpret the data/information at hand? (Examples: make students come up with their own implications, take-home message, recommendations).

    3. AFTER CLASS (optional).
      1. I found after class activity very difficult to implement in undergraduate classrooms, but in graduate level courses asking students to reflect on the pre-class assignments and the in-class discussion as a "whole unit" is useful in reinforcing the learning experience, and thus require a "post-class" blog entry.






Keywords:best practices   Doc ID:55576
Owner:Antonio A.Group:DS 875 (EPD 690) College Classroom ISIF
Created:2015-08-25 13:04 CSTUpdated:2020-09-25 08:58 CST
Sites:DS 875 (EPD 690) College Classroom ISIF
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