John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Seven Principles of Good Practice for Student Success Partnerships

February 4, 2014John N. GardnerInsights0

John N. Gardner


This is my second blog since our non-profit organization finished hosting on January 17, its second Academic and Student Affairs Leaders’ Institute: Partnerships for Promising Practices in Student Success. And I am going to use this posting to share a document that grew organically and intentionally out of the first such meeting we held in November of 2012.

The document I want to share is entitled Seven Principles of Good Practice for Student Success Partnerships.

I am doing this in this blog format because even though we released this important statement almost a year ago, and have had it posted for free access on our Institute website however, there are still many people I would like to influence, and who are readers of my blog, but who have not yet seen this statement.

These principles were produced by the staff of the Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education with very significant ideas and other forms of input from the 160 or so participants at our first Student Success Partnerships Institute.

I also want to acknowledge our lifetime respect for the work of Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson and their hugely influential Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, 1987. These two friends and colleagues of mine have been of great influence.
Please then consider and feel free to use and adapt the following Seven Principles of Good Practiced for Student Success Partnerships:

1. Good practice for student success partnerships is intentional and is based on clear institutional vision and values.

An institutional culture that values and rewards collaboration is the basis for the realization of effective partnerships. This culture must be articulated through both an explicit vision and intentional practices that are formalized and institutionalized. While the centrality of partnerships emerges from institutional culture, partnerships also serve as a means to leverage the culture; therefore, culture and partnerships become mutually reinforcing.

2. Good practice for student success partnerships is focused on facilitating student learning.

Effective partnerships depend on a shared definition of student learning that unifies the students’ spheres of experience. Partners continually strive to identify and assess learning goals, both in the curriculum and in the co-curriculum. Good practice also harnesses the positive influence on learning realized through student-to-student interaction and places a premium on the importance of efforts that maximize the shaping and influence of that interaction.

3. Good practice for student success partnerships encourages communication that links, rather than divides, community members.

Partners are careful to use language that connects, rather than separates, student affairs and academic affairs entities. Shared efforts foster understanding, acknowledgement, and respect for each other’s different strengths and roles. Partners communicate in ways that discourage generalizations about different subgroups that may be based on stereotyping or prejudice.

4. Good practice for student success partnerships enhances the learning environment for all members of the academy.

While the ultimate goal of good practice for student success partnerships is to achieve student learning and success, good practice fosters environments where faculty, academic administrators, and student affairs administrators also learn, grow, and benefit from each other. This occurs when partners achieve broader understanding of where and how student learning and success take place.

5. Good practice for student success partnerships creates a learning environment that truly reflects and embraces diversity and inclusion.

Good practice becomes a model for how diverse members of a community can and should work together for the attainment of beneficial societal goals. Partnerships, as they reveal and encourage personal and intellectual difference, also insure that the institution achieves a greater and more successful degree of diversity than would otherwise be possible.

6. Good practice for student success partnerships depends both on individual relationships and formal institutionalized connections.

While partnerships often begin between individuals or within divisions or units, for maximum effectiveness they must expand to permeate the entire institutional culture. Also, while recognizing that successful partnerships are often the result of informal personal relationships, these partnerships must be formalized in public, explicit, official agreements so that they will endure over time and will not be based only on transient connections.

7. Good practice for student success partnerships recognizes the inherent value of partnerships as a means to an end and as a valuable end in themselves.

Partnerships, while conceptualized as a means to enhanced student learning and success, can become a dominant value in the institutional belief system. Such practice then becomes a way of working and living that has intrinsic educational value. Such practice also becomes a model for how our students should live and work in our larger society based on their experience in higher education.



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