The job of instructors is moving from being seen as sage on the stage who conveys information to students to creating an effective learning environment based on “best practices” in teaching and learning. Instructors are expected to continually learn and adopt the new strategies and approaches. Institutions are expected to be able to demonstrate how well their students are learning.
Best Practices in Teaching and Learning
Examples of best practices in teaching and learning are now widely available through books, journals and on the Internet. A sampling of web sites with different strategies for teaching and learning in found at the end of this chapter. Instructors can adopt different active learning, cooperative learning and collaborative learning strategies that will assist in improving learning in students.
A widely noted overview of best practices is the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education (Chickering and Gamson, 1987 adapted from Ehrman and Chickering 1998). A point to note here, while there is ongoing research and new techniques and approaches to teaching and learning, basic principles such as Chickering’s are still considered valid and models for improvement.
Seven Principles of Good Practice
1. Encourages 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.
2. Develops 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.
3. Encourages 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.
4. Gives 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