Seven Principles in an Online Setting

Online classes can follow the seven principles suggested by Chickering and Gamson (1987). In an article by Graham, et al. (2001) , suggestions of how to accomplish each of the seven principles in online classes are given resulting, in a list of “lessons learned”.

Principle 1: Encourages Student-Faculty Contact
Lesson for online instruction: Instructors should provide clear guidelines for interaction with students.

  • Establish policies for types of communication
  • Set timelines for responding to messages
Principle 2: Encourages Cooperation Among Students
Lesson for online instruction: Well-designed discussion assignments facilitate meaningful cooperation among students.

  • Students should be required to participate
  • Discussion groups should be small
  • Evaluations based upon quality and not quantity of posting
  • Tasks should engage students in the content
  • Feedback on discussions should be given
Principle 3: Encourages Active Learning
Lesson for online instruction: Students should present course projects.

  • Presentation of case studies
  • Group creation of project through wiki posting
Principle 4: Gives Prompt Feedback
Lesson for online instruction: Instructors need to provide two types of feedback: information feedback and acknowledgment feedback

  • Acknowledgment feedback to confirm even
  • Information feedback to give information, grades, and comments
  • Responses made to entire group instead of individually
Principle 5: Emphasizes Time on Task
Lesson for online instruction: Online courses need deadlines.

  • Flexible schedules
  • Regularly distributed deadlines
Principle 6: Communicates High Expectations
Lesson for online instruction: Challenging tasks, sample cases, and praise for quality work communicate high expectations.

  • Challenging assignments
  • Provide examples along with comments of good work
  • Provide examples of interactions expected in discussion forums
  • Publicly praising exemplary work of students
Principle 7: Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
Lesson for online instruction: Allowing students to choose project topics incorporates diverse views into online courses.

  • Allow students to choose projects topics based upon set guidelines
  • Allow students to research own areas of interest
  • Allow students to share their unique points of view

Additional resource
Principles of best practices in online undergraduate teaching