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Seven Principles of Good Practice in Action

This summer at BMCC, teams of fulltime and adjunct faculty will plan and implement a project to improve outcomes in Gateway courses. Planning and design will happen in June and professional development for adjuncts will take place in August and September.

The approaches they take will vary across the eight disciplines that are looking at the high enrollment courses. Some will build a culture of care in their classrooms, others will focus on active learning and critical thinking, and others will integrate early feedback and supplemental instruction. Some are looking at small changes and others will attempt larger interventions.

Following up on the last post, I wanted to share some thoughts on Gamson and Chickering, “The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” (This is a clear and easy to read version.) Below is an annotated list of the seven principles as applied to the community college student with a few links for more information and ideas.

Chickering and Gamson state that “Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. Encourages contact between students and faculty.
    1. Get to know your students and let them know you.
    2. Use individual conferences, office hours, and group office hours.
    3. Empathy can help alleviate student resistance.
  2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.
    1. Find ways for students to work together in and out of class.
    2. Constructivist theories tell us we learn more through cooperation than competition.
    3. Learn about informal and formal cooperative learning.
  3. Encourages active learning.
    1. Get students to do something and think about what they are doing.
    2. Small changes can be good: writing to learn, buzz groups.
    3. Lectures can be made active and engaging. See how.
  4. Gives prompt feedback.
    1. Give meaningful assignments and feedback early.
    2. Student want to know how they are doing.
    3. Blackboard’s gradebook allows students to track their own progress.
    4. Use BMCC’s early alert system, Starfish. See the link on the BMCC Website Student Page, and it takes you to the BMCC Portal. http://www.bmcc.cuny.edu/students/
    5. Learn more about designing feedback for learning into your classes.
  5. Emphasizes time on task.
    1. Think about the best use of class time.
    2. “Flipped classrooms” can be effective.
    3. Student can benefit from a writing workshop with you and each other.
    4. Here’s a list of ways to make sure your class time is effective.
  6. Communicates high expectations.
    1. Set the bar high and offer support for students to reach it.
    2. Beware of stereotype threat: low expectations can discourage students.
    3. Challenge and support are two keys to teaching men of color.
  7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
    1. Recognize the talents, experiences, and heritage student bring to the class.
    2. Adopt a growth mindset for yourself and your students.
    3. Ditch the deficit model.
    4. Research culturally relevant pedagogy. Here’s a synthesis.
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