Students fail to do well in college for a variety of reasons, and only one of them is lack of academic preparedness.
Factors such as personal autonomy, self-confidence, ability to deal with racism, study behaviors, or social competence have as much
or more to do with grades, retention, and graduation than how well a student writes or how competent a student is in mathematics.
–Hunter R. Boylan, Director of the National Center for Developmental Education


The Challenge for Today’s College Educators

You know the problem. Many college students today fall far short of their potential. Pass rates, especially in developmental and first-year courses, are painfully low. The consequence is poor retention and declining graduation rates. Everyone loses–students forfeit their dreams, faculty are frustrated, and colleges scramble to improve retention.

No panacea exists, but educators Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner offered a valuable insight when they wrote: “Good learners are good learners precisely because they believe and do certain things that less effective learners do not believe and do. And therein lies the key.”

But, just what is it that good learners believe and do? And, how can educators get students to believe and do them? The On Course Learning Principles offer practical answers.

The On Course Learning Principles

Synthesizing the best wisdom from innovators in psychology, education, business, sports, and personal effectiveness, the On Course Learning Principles represent eight of the essential “things” that good learners believe and do.

Founded on these timeless principles, the On Course text and the On Course Workshops give students and instructors alike a collection of practical success tools.

By guiding students to adopt these principles and tools, you’ll empower them to become effective partners in their own education, giving them the outer behaviors and inner qualities to create greater success in college and in life.

How do your students rate in these eight principles? They can take an assessment in chapters 1 (pre) and 9 (post) of the On Course textbook to find out. And, of course, so can you.





1…ACCEPT SELF-RESPONSIBILITY, seeing themselves as the primary cause of their outcomes and experiences. 1…see themselves as Victims, believing that what happens to them is determined primarily by external forces such as fate, luck, and powerful others.
2…DISCOVER SELF-MOTIVATION, finding purpose in their lives by pursuing personally meaningful goals and dreams. 2…have difficulty sustaining motivation, often feeling depressed, frustrated, and/or resentful about a lack of direction in their lives.
3…MASTER SELF-MANAGEMENT, consistently planning and taking purposeful actions in pursuit of their goals and dreams. 3…seldom identify specific actions needed to accomplish a desired outcome, and when they do, they tend to procrastinate.
4…EMPLOY INTERDEPENDENCE, building mutually supportive relationships that help them achieve their goals and dreams (while helping others to do the same). 4…are solitary, seldom requesting, even rejecting offers of assistance from those who could help.
5…GAIN SELF-AWARENESS, consciously employing behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes that keep them on course. 5…make important choices unconsciously, being directed by self-sabotaging habits and outdated life scripts.
6…ADOPT LIFE-LONG LEARNING, finding valuable lessons and wisdom in nearly every experience they have. 6…resist learning new ideas and skills, viewing learning as fearful or boring rather than as mental play.
7…DEVELOP EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, effectively managing their emotions and the emotions of others in support of their goals and dreams. 7…live at the mercy of strong emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, or a need for instant gratification.
8…BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES, seeing themselves as capable, lovable, and unconditionally worthy as human beings. 8…doubt their competence and personal value, feeling inadequate to create their desired outcomes and experiences.
The On Course Instructional Principles

On Course Workshops model current understandings of how meaningful learning occurs. As such, they are designed to engage learners in the active construction of knowledge. Instructional methods in the workshop demonstrate how educators can address the varied learning preferences of today’s students. The workshops are guided by the following instructional principles:

  • Students construct learning primarily as a result of what they think, feel, and do (and less so by what their instructors say and do). Consequently, in formal education, the deepest learning is provided by a well-designed educational experience.
  • The most effective learners are empowered learners, those characterized by self-responsibility, self-motivation, self-management, interdependence, self-awareness, life-long learning, emotional intelligence, and strong belief in themselves.
  • At the intersection of a well-designed educational experience and an empowered learner lies the opportunity for deep and transformational learning and the path to success–academic, personal, and professional.

The On Course Instructional Principles are antithetical to the beliefs that the instructor’s primary role is to profess knowledge and that what the teacher speaks is what the student learns. Consequently, On Course Workshops have much to offer educators who seek innovative ways to engage students in active learning, helping them to relinquish learned passivity or defiance and once again become responsible and empowered partners in their own education and growth.