Seven Characteristics of a Good University Teacher Chickering and Gamson 1987/91

Swansea University

Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT)

Module Feedback

SALT recently analysed free text comments in module feedback. 'areas of improvement' were identified, defined as:-

  • An increase in first class marks
  • A decrease in failure rates
  • Above average marks

Over 200 modules were analysed. Whilst it is difficult to determine the exact reasons behind identified improvement, it is clear that when asked the question...

'What is the best thing about this module?'

...many of the comments related to the lecturer, how they interact with the student cohort and the teaching methods and tools they employ.

Chickering and Gamson

Seven Principles in Undergraduate Education (1987;1991)

It was also clear that many of the comments inadvertently related to 'The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education' published in an 1987 article by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson, later published in a 1991 book 'Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education'. The principles grew out of a review of 50 years of research on the way teachers teach and students learn, supported by the American Association for Higher Education, the Education Commission of the States and The Johnson Foundation.

This short video explains the principles in a little more detail...

To recap...

  1. Encourage contact between students and faculty
  2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
  3. Encourage active learning
  4. Communicate high expectations
  5. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning
  6. Emphasise time on task
  7. Give prompt feedback

The principles are...

''intended as guidelines for faculty members, students and administrators....to improve teaching and learning. These principles seem like good common sense, and they are - because many teachers and students have experienced them and because research supports them. They rest on 50 years of research on the way teachers teach and students learn, how students work and play with one another, and how students and faculty talk to each other.'' (Chickering and Gamson, 1987, p1)

The principles provide a useful starting point for reflection upon and teaching methods, which can prompt continual change and improvement, allowing teachers to teach well and learners to learn well.

The 2017/8 SALT Seminar and Workshop Programme is therefore themed 'Seven Characteristics of a Good University Teacher'. The button below links to a fuller account of Chickering and Gamson's work, along with some examples of how the principles can be implemented in teaching, learning and assessment.

2017/18's seminars and workshops aim to illustrate successful implementation of the principles, which may be of interest to, and provide support for, academic staff wishing to further develop their learning and teaching.

Previous Events

The first seminar took place in November 2017 at the Bay Campus, 'Lightboard in Engineering' (blog and video recording here).

The second was at the Singleton Campus on Wednesday February 14th 2018, 'Closing the Gap' with Scenario-based learning (blog and video recording here).

The third, on 'Audio Feedback' took place at the Singleton Campus on March 14th 2018 (blog and video recording here).

The most recent workshops, in April and May, have been on how the use of archives -namely Swansea University's Richard Burton Archives - meets several of the seven characteristics when used in teaching and learning within many disciplines. Watch out for resources on this theme to be published on the SALT website soon, featuring academic staff sharing their positive experiences.

Upcoming Events

The next session will be held at The Bay Campus (details to follow).

All of the 'seven characteristics' seminars and workshops are multi-disciplinary in application, and will continue throughout 2018/9.

Useful SALT Links

The use of 'TEL' (Technology Enhanced Learning) or 'enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology' (HEFC 2009, 2) is now relevant to all seven principles, which shows that while methods have advanced considerably since the time of Chickering and Gamson's work, the principles remain the same.

Whether 'traditional' or 'new' methods are used, meeting them is important in achieving the best possible outcomes for learners and higher education professionals alike.

The SALT website contains helpful information on a range of ways in which technology can be used effectively in higher education learning and teaching , with excellent 'seven characteristics' links. Combined with more traditional pedagogic methods, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) can provide a means to enhance engagement, as well as relationships between learners and teachers, in a wide range of higher education settings.

(see SALT>Resources>Technology)

SALT runs continual professional development courses available to all academic staff on 'The Flipped Classroom' and 'Inclusivity', which link well with the seven characteristics. The courses are mapped to the United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework for Higher Education (UKPSF) and thus helpful for Higher Education Fellowship application. SALT is also piloting Open Digital Badges upon completion of some courses.

Swansea Graduates 2017

For more information on the 'Seven Characteristics of a Good University Teacher', attending or delivering upcoming seminars and workshops please see the SALT website 'Upcoming Events' or contact Rhian or Simon (details below).


Email : r.e.ellis@swansea.ac.uk ; s.gibbon@swansea.ac.uk/

Follow SALT on Twitter : https://twitter.com/susaltteam

Follow Rhian on Twitter :https: @rhianellis3

Follow Simon on Twitter https: @gibbonsimon

Created By
Rhian Ellis


Created with images by FeeBeeDee - "seven 2" • senjinpojskic - "connect jigsaw strategy"

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