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Research Guides

Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

Best Practices in Undergraduate Educations

Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education - Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson

The following principles are intended as a guidelines for faculty members, students, and administrators. The authors argue that an undergraduate education should prepare students to understand and deal intelligently with modern life. It:

  1. Encourages contacts between students and faculty: most important factor in student motivation and engagement. Knowing a few faculty members well encourages commitment.
  2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students: learning is enhanced when it is a team effort. Good learning is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated.
  3. Uses active learning techniques: students do not learn much just by sitting in class. They must make what they learn part of themselves.
  4. Gives prompt feedback: knowing what you know and don’t know helps to focus learning. Reflection on what they have learned and what they still need to know.
  5. Emphasizes time on task: learning to use one’s time well.
  6. Communicates high expectations: expect more and you will get more. Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  7. Respects diverse talents and ways of learning: people bring different talents to learning. Students need opportunities to show their talents and ways of learning.

Together, these seven principles employ powerful forces in education:

  • Activity
  • Expectations
  • Cooperation
  • Interaction
  • Diversity
  • Responsibility

The authors feel that both teachers and students hold responsibility for improving undergraduate education, and have the power to shape an environment that is favorable to undergraduate education. This includes:

  • a strong sense of shared purpose
  • concrete support from administrators
  • adequate funding
  • policies and procedures consistent with purposes

Additionally, the authors argue that administrators can encourage good learning environments in the following ways:

  • Setting policies that are consistent with good practice in undergraduate education
  • Holding high expectations for institutional performance.
  • Keeping bureaucratic regulations to a minimum that is compatible with public accountability.
  • Allocating adequate funds for new undergraduate programs and the professional development of faculty members, administrators, and staff.
  • Encouraging employment of under-represented groups among administrators, faculty members, and student services professionals.
  • Providing the support for programs, facilities, and financial aid necessary for good practice in undergraduate education.

What's Wrong With the Undergraduate Essay

Undergraduate Student Engagement

In  "What’s Wrong with Writing Essays," Mark L Sample, writing for Debates in Digital Humanities, argues that as a professor, he is growing increasingly disillusioned with student research papers, as they measures how well a student can conform to the theses/defense of theses model, which can remove complexity, ambiguity, and critical thinking. Additionally, he argues that the chief goal of professors should not be to turn students into miniature versions of themselves, yet that is what undergraduate essay contributes to. He states that at the postsecondary level, the essay has come to symbolize a stand-in for research, revision, and dialogue that scholars engage in, when it usually is an exercise in regurgitation. Sample calls it "a twitch in a void, a compressed outpouring of energy (if we’re lucky) that means nothing to no one." 

Sample's own response to addressing this problem as been to integrate public writing into courses, so that students understand that what they think, say, and write matters: to them, to him (the professor or facilitator), to their peers, and to the world.​ He asks his students to engage with seemingly incongruous materials, developing new ideas.

Sample's arguments echo the Carnegie Melon Boyer Commission

In 1998, the Carnegie Mellon Foundation appointed a commission to investigate the quality of education that undergraduates were receiving, as there was general concern that post-secondary institutions were producing graduates with bachelor degrees that were ill prepared for the workforce. The Boyer Commission[i] found that in most post-secondary institutions, most undergraduates were not asked to conduct any original research, but rather, were expected to go to lectures where they were passive attendants, and were later asked to regurgitate materials absorbed from these lectures as a form of assessment. The Boyer Commission recommended that there be a shift toward a new model of undergraduate research. Rather than have students be passive – taking in info given to them by faculty, undergraduates ought to be given the opportunity to participate in the process of "inquiry, investigation, and discovery that are at the heart of academia. Additionally, the report argues that undergraduates should be included in the stimulating work of knowledge production. Generally, there is a need to get away from the common belief that students must attain a broad base of knowledge during their undergraduate careers before they can actively take part in "doing" history and that "real" work begins in the graduate school.