Faculty Development

Teach with Transparency

**This page is from an old version of CSUN's Teaching Toolkit. Find an updated version on the current Teaching Toolkit on Canvas.**


  What Does it Mean to Teach with Transparency?

Teaching with transparency means to teach while making obvious the intellectual practices involved in completing and evaluating a learning task. The goal of transparent teaching is to promote students’ conscious understanding of how they learn. Transparent teaching methods help students understand how and why they are learning course content in particular ways.


  Does it Work?

In 2014, AAC&U partnered with the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (TILT Higher Ed) project, founded at the University of Illinois and now housed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on an initiative that significantly increases underserved college students’ success. TG Philanthropy funded the Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning project (www.aacu.org/problemcenteredlearning), with Tia McNair, Ashley Finley, and Mary-Ann Winkelmes as the coinvestigators. In its first year, the endeavor has identified a simple, replicable teaching intervention that demonstrably enhances students’ success, especially that of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented college students in multiple ways at statistically significant levels, with a medium to large magnitude of effect. These results offer implications for how faculty can help their institutions to right the inequities in college students’ educational experiences across the country.

The results of their project suggest that faculty can contribute to increasing all students’ success, especially that of underserved students, in their first year of college (when the greatest number of students drop out) (Head and Hosteller 2015). In courses where students perceived more transparency as a result of receiving the transparently designed, problem-centered take-home assignments, they experienced significantly greater learning benefits compared with their classmates who perceived less transparency around assignments in a course. Specifically, students who received more transparency reported gains in three areas that are important predictors of students’ success: academic confidence, sense of belonging, and mastery of the skills that employers value most when hiring. These are “substantively important” and statistically significant findings that satisfy WWC standards for baseline equivalence measures of 0.05 or below, sample sizes above three hundred fifty, and effect size differences above 0.25 (US Department of Education March 2014).

 What do Transparent Assignments Look Like?