Making your Assignments More Transparent
This instructional guide provides an opportunity to re-create one of the assignments for your course using the Transparency in Learning in Teaching (TILT) format, get usable feedback on the clarity of your assignment, and verify that your assignment is giving you valid evidence of how well your students have reached one (or more) of your course learning outcomes. Clear and complete assignments generate less confusion among your students, fewer questions for you to answer, and increased motivation for students to complete the task.
- Review at least one of the example TILTed assignments below. Even if none of the assignments below are similar to the types of assignments in your course, these examples will give an idea of how to draft effective and transparent purpose, task, and criteria sections for your assignment.
- Choose an individual or group assignment that:
- is a moderate or high-stakes assignment. This could be a worksheet, project, a Canvas discussion, paper, etc.
- is not an exam or a quiz.
- has caused students' confusion or other challenges in previous semester, such as low-quality student work.
- Based on your chosen assignment, reflect on the level of transparency in your assignment to determine if it satisfies each criterion in the Transparent Assignment Checklist.
- If your assignment does not include certain criteria, you can use the last column to indicate the changes you plan to make to incorporate that criteria.
- Based on your comments in the last column, revise your assignment's purpose, task, and criteria using the TILT Assignment Template.
Self-assess your TILTed assignment
Your TILTed assignment should:
- generate student work that will clearly tell you whether or not students are reaching one or more of your course learning outcomes.
- clearly explain the purpose of the assignment in a way that students will understand the benefit to them of completing it that's more than just a grade in your course.
- include task instructions that include all the steps and can be followed exactly to complete the assignment.
- include criteria that clearly describe what a successful submission of the assignment looks like.
- be written using student-facing language ("you/your") and avoid unnecessary jargon and academic-ese.
Having a colleague from another department review and provide feedback can be valuable for determining the level of transparency. Since this colleague is not as familiar with your course content, they will read your assignment from a student's perspective. If you're unsure whether your task section is clear, we recommend that you engage in this peer review process.
In addition to self-assessing your TILTed assignment and receiving peer feedback, it may be valuable to gather direct student feedback when you implement it, particularly if you are unsure if certain components are transparent. Depending on the type of assignment you are revising, you might ask the students if the directions were clear, if they understood why the assignment is valuable for their learning, and if they knew and understood how their assignment would be graded.