There are lots of lists of principles for this field. I am a great believer that a set of clearly defined principles can provide teachers with clear parameters within which to ensure their work is both effective and efficient at its intended application. Numbered lists are quite pervasive in educational theory for this reason.

Principles provide teachers with common objectives that allow for collaboration, management of work load, in planning and a check list to ensure their application, even if this is just something at the back of your mind.

Here is a summation of some principles:

1: Different instruction is required for different learning outcomes

Given that any subject has a number of learning outcomes this would mean that there would be a variety of learning activities and related assessment. This is important for the student's experience.

Outcomes, activities and assement need always to be aligned (Biggs and Tang, 2011).

2: Identify objectives

Students should never be confused and should have a clear notion of what is required of them. This involves clearly stated learning outcomes, explanations and descriptions, real-world examples and assessment rubrics that are specific to the outcomes (i.e. not general and vague).

Personally I think that, for students, it is best to embed descriptions of the objects in an introductory paragraph rather than list them separately as is common. For instance, in some cases you find the learning objective statements are incomprehensible to a student who has not yet been introduced to the terminology of the subject.

Confusion and second guessing the teacher's intentions is rampant in education. Students need a clear pathway that clearly demonstrates the alignment of objectives, activities, assessment (Anderson & McCormick,2005) and, I would add, further learning and realworld application.

3: Feedback/assessment

Feedback covers a lot. It can be from the teacher but also between peers and even includes self-reflection. Electronic learning technologies allow for continual feedback that is both summative and formative. Also through the use of online discussion forums and the like students can construct knowledge as a community of enquiry or independently, stimulating meta cognition (Griffen, P., 2012) .

5: Allow new evidence of achievement to replace old evidence

This comes from McTighe and O'Conner (2005) and raises the issue of assessment being used to actually allow students to improve their grades rather than purely as an end result. In this way formative assessment is more progressive evaluation. While in the past the final exam was practical, educational technology allows for more regular assessments without necessarily adding to teacher workload. Grades can be aggregated from a variety of activities and derived from formative assessment tasks.

This notion is most effective if norm referenced assessment is abandoned and criterion-based assessment adopted. (Popham, 1975)



6: Applicability

Anderson & McCormick (2005) provide two principles, ease of use and cost-effectiveness that i think could be considered together. Just as time is a cost so is complexity and confusion. Both learning and teaching can take advantage of more effective and efficient educational practice. The costs make themselves apparent financially, especially in underutilised resources and in time wasted. Clearly framed learning processes have benefit both in time management, resource development and inevitably pedagogical outcomes.

7: Offer appropriate choices

Again McTighe & O'Connor (2009). who write that students differ in both how they process information and how they demonstrate their learning. Indivualising learning and teacher is difficult to implement. It can easily be confusing to the students and time consuming for teachers. The importance of framing learning and clearly defining outcomes become crucial. Although it may at first seem contradictory, by precisely defining an intended outcome we allow for more flexibility in how individual students can go about addressing it. If we are to incorporate any higher order learning such as creativity and synthesis we need to have some element of choice within the learning process. This is even usefully achieved by having a limited range of choices. The greater the degree of choice the more precise the learning objective and assessment criteria needs to be. Also, individualisation of learning, by definition puts greater emphasis on self assessment.

8: Stimulate curiosity

While it is essential to clearly state learning objectives, it is just as important to create puzzlement for the student (Savery & Duffy, 1995) . This adds to a student's sense of purpose for learning as opposed to just complying with some overstated procedure in order to pass. In this way we add authenticity to a learning experience. In practice this involves problem - based learning and questioning. Much of which can be developed through active discussion online.

There is a balance here between open-ended enquiry and structured knowledge that needs to be carefully managed or scaffolded. As in any constructivist approach you need to consider first what the students know already and find the zone of proximal development before you can propose uncertainties. Learning is more satisfying for students when they are aware of their own progress.


Anderson, J., & McCormick, R. (2005). Ten pedagogic principles for e-learning. Insight–Observatory for new technologies and education, Brussels, viewed, 19(04), 2011.

Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. S. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university : What the student does. Maidenhead : Open University Press, 2011.

Gagne, R.M. (1965). The Conditions of Learning. New York, Rinehart and Winston.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1995). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational technology, 35(5), 31-38.


Garrison, R.D. (2011) E Learning in the 21st century (2nd edition). New York: Routledge.

Griffen, P. McGaw, B. Care, E. (eds.) (2012) Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills. Springer

McTighe, J., & O'Connor, K. (2009). Seven practices for effective learning. Kaleidoscope: Contemporary and Classic Readings in Education, 174.

Popham, J. W. (1975). Educational evaluation. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.