Seven Principles Student Inventory: An indicator of success?

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Vincent Tinto


School administration, Higher education

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education was developed by Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson (1987) and received support from the AAHE, the Johnson Foundation and others. Despite its widespread distribution, no published evidence was found to empirically validate the Seven Principles (student faculty contact, cooperation among students, active learning, prompt feedback, time on task, high expectations, diverse talents and ways of learning), or their supporting inventory, which focused on student learning. This study was undertaken to explore the relationship of the Seven Principles Student Inventory with student learning.

The study was conducted at a public, comprehensive college and included 537 usable responses from a representative sample of undergraduates. The study was multi-faceted as described below:

Inventory refinement. Based on student testing and expert agreement the original student inventory was refined and improved.

Construct validation. Endorsement from the original inventory authors and a factor analysis supported the instrument's construct validity.

Predictive relationship. Using a stepwise, hierarchical, discriminant analysis, it was established that significant inventory scale variables could be utilized to correctly predict classification of subjects, as either high or low achievers, beyond the effect of pre-college control variables (HS average, SAT, sex) alone.

Other findings included the following: (1) Tau indicated that adding factor variables hierarchically increased classification accuracy over random assignment by 48%, versus a 31% improvement when only control variables were used. (2) McNemar's chi-square test demonstrated a significant increment in discriminating power with the addition of scale variables. (3) "TimeTask" clearly emerged as the scale variable contributing most to the inventory's discriminating power.

Overall, while results support a positive association between inventory scale variables and student learning, they should be viewed cautiously as not all of the scale variables contributed significantly.


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