I connected immediately with Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education despite being an elementary school educator. In the introduction it was stated that the list was based on distilled findings from decades of research on the undergraduate experience and suggested good practices. However similar problems exist at all levels at a different scale and in an altered guise and these principles can be applied easily to any level of education. While the SECTIONS framework recommended by Bates and Poole is very practical and thorough, it meant less to me in comparison since I am not in an administrative position in my district or even at my school. The T and I sections were the ones of interest to me with their focus on enhancing learning through student engagement, learning styles, active learning, feedback and interaction.
The principles focused on not what is taught, but on how it is taught and are embedded in sound pedagogy. I found it to be very constructivist in its suggestion of teacher involvement, formative assessment, active and collaborative social learning, and celebrating student diversity through multimodalities. What appealed to me most was that even though these principles were developed with technology in mind, they can be achieved even in a purely F2F setup.
Mostly these principles spoke to me because I have attempted to implement similar notions in my classroom. Since completing the MET course in Constructivism (ETEC 530: Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning) I have tried to use these constructivist principles as the foundation on which I plan my units and lessons. I have endeavoured to create time for some one on one with every student and utilized this time to provide formative feedback as well. Students work in partner and group setting as much as possible, communicating F2F and through Class Blogs. A lot of learning is discussion and activity based, where the students have to bring in their experiences and problem solving skills. It is a busy and loud classroom where the Principal often (not always!) finds me standing quietly while the students work animatedly! With reading ability ranging in my class from grade 1 to grade 7, I work at providing multimodal ways of exploring and representing concepts.
While for this seventh principle, I rely extensively on technology, I still need to work on achieving the other principles through technology. Bates and Poole discuss how younger students need blended environments as they are not mature enough to learn exclusively in an online setup. While they are referring to undergraduates at Universities and colleges, this clearly suggests that in a K-12 education the blended environments should lean more towards F2F setup.
Since the middle of last year I have attempted to apply these principles in my class with different degrees of success. Chickering and Gamson’s clarify that for any level of success there needs to be commitment – not just from the teacher but also the students. It was very challenging to convince my students this September (20 boys and 9 girls) to buy into this setup. I had to show them the benefits and rope in their parents help to finally get them to adopt some of these principles. In this competitive world it is hard to convince people (even little ones) that they can be winners by sharing their knowledge, helping others and learning from them!
Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in
Undergraduate Education. American Association for Higher Education
Bulletin, 39 (7), 3-7.
Chickering, A.W. & Ehrmann, S.C. (1996). Implementing the Seven Principles:
Technology as Lever. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin,
Bates A. W. & Poole, G. (2003). A Framework for Selecting and Using
Technology. In A.W. Bates & G. Poole, Effective Teaching with
Technology in Higher Education (pp. 75-108). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 4.