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Learning Principles

Teaching Principles

Effective teaching involves striving continually to learn about students’ understanding and the effects of teaching on it. The following principles provide insights into the important aspects of effective teaching.

  • Effective teaching involves acquiring relevant knowledge about students and using that knowledge to inform our course design and classroom teaching.
  • Effective teaching involves aligning the three major components of instruction: learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities.
  • Constructive alignment between learning objectives, assessment and instructional strategies.
  • Effective teaching involves articulating explicit expectations regarding learning objectives and policies
  • Effective teaching involves prioritising the knowledge and skills we choose to focus on
  • Effective teaching involves recognising and overcoming our expert blind spots
  • Effective teaching involves adopting appropriate teaching roles to support our learning goals
  • Effective teaching involves progressively refining our courses based on reflection and feedback

Learning Principles

The literature reports seven learning principles for effective learning. Each is based on research evidence from the science of learning and the science of instruction.

  • Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning
  • How students organise knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know
  • Students’ motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do to learn
  • To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned
  • Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning
  • Students’ current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning
  • To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning

More information on the teaching and learning principles can be found on the website of Eberly Centre for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University


  • Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Eberly Centre (n.d.). Principles of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from Carnegie Mellon University website

Last updated on 02 May 2017 .