18 Apr 2018

Transparency in Assignment Design

One of my favorite concurrent sessions at CARL 2018 was Maya Hobscheid’s “From Instruction to Instructional Design: Scalable Approaches to Information Literacy” which outlined a faculty development workshop focused on increasing transparency in assignment design. This presentation made the case for actively working with instructors on the design of their assignments, and showed the impact that these interventions can have.

To get a sense of what this was all about, compare these two writing prompts:

What’s different? The second writing prompt - created during an instructor development workshop - breaks the task down into two assignments, and also clearly outlines the purpose, task, and criteria of the assignment. While there is still room for improvement, the second prompt clarifies expectations and begins to introduce a process for completing the assignment. Much better!

The key takeaway: assignments, activities, and other learning experiences can be more or less transparent depending on how they are designed.

Improving levels of transparency in assignment prompts by clearly stating the purpose, task, and criteria for success on the assignment “has been shown to demonstrably improve the success of first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented college students” (Hobscheid, 2018).

Some links and resources: