- Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Erhmann -

It is hard to taken issue with any of the ideas in this article. Indeed why would you? It reads as a manifesto for good teaching in any context. Concisely summarised, the seven principles are:

  1. let your students get to know you
  2. encourage collaborative learning
  3. get students to reflect on and apply learning
  4. provide prompt feedback
  5. allocate realistic time for students to effectively complete tasks
  6. encourage students to aim high
  7. cater for different learning styles

My response to this article:

One of the things I find most exciting about the Internet is that it has re-awakened teachers to notions of what constitutes good learning. The Seven Principles of Chickering and Ehrmann can be applied in any classroom. What Internet teaching has demonstrated however is that online courses will have limited success unless they employ these Seven Principles. Their emphasis on ownership of learning and peer collaboration also leans towards a constructivist approach that is touted as the way to fully exploit Internet technology.

Few would take issue with the fact that contructivism is the ideal. And that's the problem - it is an ideal approach and anything ideal takes deep thinking and careful planning. The way most of were taught at school, and were taught to teach at teachers college, was not a la the constructivist method. To use a constructivist approach, and therefore fully utilise the capability of Internet learning technology, we need to change our ways. But these changes can be implemented in f2f classrooms as well, and in some cases it is occurring - changes in evaluating classroom teaching are being informed by distance learning practice using the Net.

My suspicion is though, and I know many others share this concern, is that the way of the Seven Principles is an ideal that is believed in., but not widely put into practice. Still, it is good to have ideals as a measuring stick. Even if we only put into practice 4 or 5 of the seven principles, we are on the road to providing a better service for our students.

Michael Coghlan (24rd March, 2001)

Michael Coghlan's Net home: