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Overview of Pedagogical Theory II

Page history last edited by Anne McKinney 14 years, 11 months ago



Seven Principles for Good Practice

In 1987, Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gameson first published a list of "The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education". Since then, their Principles have been referenced again and again as effective practices in higher education. While they are over 20 years old, they continue to be relevant to online learning (and graduate-level education).[1]


The Seven Principles:


  1. Good Practice encourages student-faculty contact.
  2. Good practice encourages cooperation among students.
  3. Good practice encourages active learning.
  4. Good practice gives prompt feedback.
  5. Good practice emphasizes time on task.
  6. Good practice communicates high expectations.
  7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.[2]


It's no coincidence that some of the lessons in this workshop are influenced by these principles. As we proceed through the modules we will discuss effective practices that harken back to Chickering's and Gameson's list as prime tenets of effective instruction.


Andragogy and Adult Learning Theory

Basically, andragogy is the theory of adult learning. As pioneered by Malcolm Knowles (1984), the theory argues that adults learn differently than children, and they have different motivations and learning needs that must be addressed by the instructor. Some of the main principles of andragogy:


  1. Adults need to know why they need to learn something.
  2. Adults need to learn experientially.
  3. Adults approach learning as problem-solving.
  4. Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.[3]


Presumably, if you are participating in this workshop you have a practical motivation to learn how to teach online. Since this workshop is geared toward Library and Information Science instruction it is probably also safe to assume that you are preparing to teach adults. When possible, it will be helpful to you as an instructor to help your students understand how the subject matter will relate to their plans for their career or personal lives. This is not to imply that your students won't have a genuine passion for learning the subject for its own sake, but appealing to these principles can only enhance students' level of engagement in your course.



In keeping with the andragogical principle of experiential learning is the theory of constructivism. Constructivism is the idea that people construct their knowledge and understanding of the world based on their experiences and reflections on those experiences. New information is learned in the context of what the individual already knows. This makes the individual the active creator of his or her own knowledge.[4]


Instructors can incorporate constructivist methods into their courses by using activities that call upon students to seek answers to subject-related questions and/or real-life problems. The instructor in this sense becomes a "guide on the side" more than a "sage on the stage,"[5] leading students to learn new information on their own. Many instructors like to use group exercises, journal reflections, and other activities that help students incorporate new information into what they already know and understand.


Readings in Pedagogy

I have collected a series of articles relating to pedagogy in Delicious. Some articles are older than others. While the newer articles have the obvious advantage of offering some of the most recent developments -- especially where they relate to technology, the older articles offer researched studies of effective practices that are still just as valuable today.


You may choose to read any or all of these articles for your own research and study. If you are pursuing the WISE Certificate, you only need to read one for the following exercise, as described in the text box.



Exercising Your Knowledge

Read one of the pedagogical articles posted to this Delicious account: http://delicious.com/annemck/articles+pedagogy. Post a new thread to the WISE Readings in Online Pedagogy discussion forum that incorporates your response to the article you chose in a brief paragraph or two. Why did you decide upon this article? Quote a selected passage from the text that personally resonates with your beliefs or experiences, or one that you reacted to emotionally. You could completely disagree with the author, or perhaps the passage brought some new information to your attention. You may opt to reflect upon your own experiences either as an instructor or as an online student, or consider any information in the supplemental readings.


In addition to this initial post, respond to at least two others' messages in this forum to pursue the Certificate of Completion (when possible). Please avoid posting messages that merely state "Me too!" or "I agree."


There are no right or wrong answers. It will be interesting to read your reactions to the texts and where the discussions lead us.





  1. Chickering, Arthur W. and Stephen C. Ehrmann. (1996). "Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever." Retrieved from The TLT Group on June 3, 2009: http://www.tltgroup.org/programs/seven.html
  2. Chickering, A.W, and Gamson, Z.F. "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education." AAHE Bulletin, 1987, 39(7), 3-7. Retrieved on June 3, 2009: http://www.cord.edu/dept/assessment/sevenprin.htm
  3. Andragogy. Retrieved from Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice Database, May 9, 2009: http://tip.psychology.org/knowles.html
  4. Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning. (2004). Retrieved from Concept to Classroom: http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html
  5. King, Alison. "From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side." (1993). College Teaching, Vol. 41.

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