The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

5. The Professor's Role: Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

Nurturing students through the undergraduate research process is a critical component for their success and therefore the role that faculty play in this process is of utmost importance. Recall that our own research skills have been honed through many years of experience and informed by guidance from colleagues. It is important to provide similar guidance for novices that lack experience or critical skills. The goal of this section is to show how ‘seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education’ (Chickering and Gamson, 1991) can be used as a guide for enhancing the outcomes associated with undergraduate research projects. The examples are drawn from my experience and many of them derived from teaching a capstone research course in economics to undergraduates.

The ‘seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education’ were developed over 25 years ago through a series of cooperative efforts and were intended to synthesise decades of research on the undergraduate experience. They are designed to provide (Gamson, 1991: 7) an ‘accessible, understandable, practical, and widely applicable’ list ‘of key principles which characterize the practices of educationally successful undergraduate institutions.’ Although they were not created to evaluate specific pedagogical practices, subsequent applications of these principles include evaluating the educational goals of entire fields such as legal education, evaluating online courses and using technology (see Hess, 1999; Graham et al., 2001; and Chickering and Ehrmann 1996, respectively). The purpose of introducing them here is that they provide a guide for developing productive practice that is grounded in decades of research on successful pedagogy. The principles are outlined in sections 5.1 to 5.7.