Transparent assignment design

27 December 2017

Last term, our final LTC session wrapped up with a discussion of the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework. Transparent teaching has been shown to boost students’ academic confidence and increase their sense of belonging in the classroom. Faculty using this approach: 

  • frame activities and assignments so that their importance, structure, and expectations are clear, and
  • focus activities and assignments on what is being learned – and how to learn – instead of what simply needs to get done. 

Transparent teaching explicitly focuses on how and why students are learning course content, and in this context, assignments are most effective if they are framed in “purpose focused” manner. In particular, transparent assignment prompts clearly articulate three things: 1) the purpose of the assignment, highlighting how the knowledge and skills involved in this assignment are important in contexts beyond this particular assignment or course, 2) the task at hand, with a clear discussion of what activities the student needs to perform, not just the final product that needs to be produced, and 3) the criteria for success, which define characteristics of excellent versus adequate work, often through providing examples.

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