Some Applications for Chickering and Gamson’s 7 Priciples In the Online Classroom


In 1987, Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson published their classic work entitled “Seven principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.”  A. W. Bangert opined in a 2004 article that “The Seven Principles framework (Chickering and Gamson) offers solid, research guidance for the design and delivery of Internet courses.”

Principle 01: Encourages contacts between students and faculty.

  • Email response policy sets expectations for both student and instructor
  • Electronic office hours
  • Use a variety of communication tools in course (announcements, email, discussion, etc.)
  • Synchronous communication (chat, text, Skype, etc.)
  • Pictures or avatars for faculty and students

Principle 02: Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students. 

  • Discussion forums
  • Peer review
  • Ice-breaker activity
  • Tools for collaboration
  • Group projects

Principle 03: Uses Active Learning Techniques.

  • Problem based learning (case studies, vignettes)
  • Projects that end in class presentation
  • Peer review
  • Group activities and/or discussion

Principle 04: Gives prompt feedback.

  • Policy on return of student work
  • Use rubrics
  • Quizzes for formative assessment

Principle 05: Emphasizes time on task.

  • Clearly state course objectives (beyond placing in syllabus)
  • Clear expectations for assignments and assessments
  • Rubrics
  • Send reminders and announcements
  • Set definite deadlines (course schedule)
  • Late work submission discouraged

Principle 06: Communicates high expectations.

  • Use rubrics to set expectations for participation and assignments
  • Regular participation and feedback in discussion forums
  • Detailed course schedule
  • Publish student work
  • Model expected behavior for students
  • Call attention to excellent work

Principle 07: Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

  • Use a variety of modes of content delivery (text, audio, video, images)
  • Provide some choice in project topics (students can pick something related to their interests or work)
  • Assessment of prior knowledge at start of course
  • Encourage students to express diverse points of view in discussions
  • Provide various real-life examples

Chickering and Gamson’s article is available here:

Bangert, A. W. “The Seven Principles of Good Practice: A Framework for Evaluating Online Teaching.” The Internet and Higher Education, vol. 7 no. 3 (2004), 217-232.