Transparent Teaching

A key scholar of transparency in teaching and learning, Mary-Ann Winkelmes, defines transparency as a process in which teachers and students are engaged in “focusing together on how college students learn what they learn and why teachers structure learning experiences in particular ways.”

Winkelmes and her collaborators have developed a model that more precisely defines transparency as clarity about the purpose, task, and criteria of learning activities and assignments.

  1. Purpose of assignment: What skills are students practicing? What knowledge will they gain?
  2. Task: What are students expected to do? How do they do it?
  3. Criteria: Is there a checklist or rubric for self-evaluation? Did you provide students with annotated or high-quality examples of the assignment?

Recent studies have shown that clear communication about these factors enhances all students’ learning but is especially beneficial to first-generation students and others who have been historically underserved by higher education. In short, transparency can minimize significant barriers to equity in learning. As you begin to think about your formative and summative assessments, you should keep the ideas on transparency in mind. Fortunately, the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) project provides various tools, templates, and other resources to get you started.