Week 2: Overview

Principles of Practice

During Week 1, we focused on how people learn. We'll continue to encourage you to explore the learner's perspective in this overview but we'll start with a reminder of the importance of the instructor's role in developing relationships with learners.

Before the research and framework that supported the Community of Inquiry model, there was a well-researched set of seven principles of good practice in higher education that identified ways in which instructors could support student success (Chickering and Gamson, 1991).

You might consider whether your design will :

1.  Encourage contact between students and faculty.

2.  Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students

3.  Encourage active learning.

4.  Give prompt feedback

5.  Emphasize time on task.

6.  Communicate high expectations

7.  Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.

Similar principles are cited in other guidelines. The University of Mary Washington's Online Learning Intiative uses five principles to guide their online learning designs (cited in Inside Higher Education article, 2012):

  1. Develop a learning community
  2. Provide a high degree of interactivity - between instructors and students and among/between students;
  3. Provide active learning
  4. Encourage reflection
  5. Include opportunities for self-directed learning

And a recent multi-case study analysis of student perceptions of the important factors of online course design (Fayer, 2014) identified the most valued elements as those related to the instructor's knowledge and instructional skills online and on the design of the course:

Strong Course Organization

  • provide highly organized course materials / documents prior to the start of a course
  • allow students to access all content modules at start of course so they can explore and manage their time
  • provide multiple opportunities to engage with complex content and master important concepts
  • provide structured and timely feedback
  • ensure relevance of content and activities is clear to students

For examples of popular quality guidelines, see the following page.


Chickering, Arthur W., Z.F. Gamson, eds. (1991) Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in HIgher Education, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, Number 47, Fall 1991 Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/tl.37219914701

Crews, Tena B., et al (2015) Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education: Effective Online Course Design to Assist Students' Success, Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol.11, No.1, March 2015. Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol11no1/Crews_0315.pdf

Dreon, Oliver. (2013) Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom, Faculty Focus, February 25, 2013, Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/applying-the-seven-principles-for-good-practice-to-the-online-classroom/

Fayer, Liz (2014) A Multi-Case Study of Student Perceptions of Online Course Design Elements and Success, International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol 8, No. 1, Article 13, Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=ij-sotl

Kim, Joshua, (2012) 5 Foundational Principles for Course Design, Inside Higher Education, Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/5-foundational-principles-course-design

University of Florida, Center for Instructional Technology and Training (2016) Chickering and Gamson 7 Rules for Undergraduate Education, Retrieved from http://citt.ufl.edu/tools/chickering-and-gamson-7-rules-for-undergraduate-education/