Transparency: Clearly communicating about norms, expectations, and evaluation criteria.

This list offers examples of concrete strategies aligned with this general inclusive teaching principle. If you would like to submit your own example for consideration, please click here.

Explicitly communicate the purpose, task, and grading criteria for graded assignments.
  • Use the transparent assignment design template as a model for creating language to describe assignments or review your current assignment descriptions with this checklist to enhance the transparency. (Transparency in Higher Education or TILT, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
  • See a pdf comparison of two assignments focused on reviewing scientific posters with the second one applying the transparent assignment design template. (TILT, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
  • Provide this list to help students understand the implications of transparent assignment research and clarify expectations for the assignments. (TILT, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Clarify how you'd like students to address you, especially if you teach students from a range of educational and cultural backgrounds.
  • On your course syllabus, clearly state your name as you would like to be addressed and do the same when you introduce yourself to the class on the first day.
  • Sign your name at the end of emails and other forms of electronic communications in the format you would like to be addressed.
  • See Appendix 1 for an example of the variety of ways students might address you, and the formality of each. (Rau DH.V., Rau G. (2016) Negotiating Personal Relationship Through Email Terms of Address. In: Chen Y., Rau DH., Rau g. (eds) Email Discourse Among Chinese Using English as a Lingua Franca. Springer, Singapore)
Share in easy-to-find places (syllabus, Canvas site, etc.) your preferences for how students should communicate with you, whether to ask questions or talk more broadly about course material: what kind of questions/topics are best for office hours, which are best for email, what do you want brought up in class, what should be addressed to a GSI, etc.
  • Watch a funny mock-informercial for Faculty Office Hours, intended to inform students about the purpose of office hours and encourage attendance. (“Introducing FOH: Faculty Office Hours at Arizona State University (ASU)” published on Youtube on Nove 18, 2015)
Explain the learning objectives of the activities you use class time for (e.g. solving problems, providing feedback on a peers' work, working independently on projects).
  • Answer the following 3 questions (in order) will assist you in establishing the learning objectives for each class activity).
    • What do I want my students to learn? (This ensures that a goal is conceived, providing an objective for the learning activity(ies) that will be decided upon next.)
    • What teaching and/or learning activity(ies) will I use?
    • How do I evaluate that the students have learned what I set out to teach? (This reinforces the objective you had in the mind, ensuring that the objective you set out to achieve has been reached.)
Communicate your sense of the instructor's and students' respective roles in shaping and guiding class discussions. (What are students' responsibilities; what are yours? When and why might these shift?)
For assignments, explain your expectations around the relative importance of students' ideas/analysis and their sharing of information or ideas/words published by others.
  • Provide students with a link to the Honor Code and explain what counts as violation of honor code specifically in your assignments.
  • Clearly state what level of collaboration is allowed on the course syllabus. See an example on page 2 under the homework section. (Syllabus for UM course EECS 538, taught by Hafix K. M. Sheriff, Jr.)
Offer guidance on how students might prioritize out-of-class tasks and allocate their time strategically.
  • Provide an estimate for about how much time an assignment will take and/or about how much time per week the student should allocate for the course.
Dedicate time in class for students to discuss and ask questions about assignments.
  • The class before a homework/assignment due date is a good time for this. You can begin the lecture/discussion by soliciting related questions, or by providing useful hints to common questions and problems.
Invite students to share their own expectations for the learning environment, based on their prior experiences, to help you understand where your expectations may be mismatched.
  • Gather feedback from students on this topic, and other topics, as part of a Midterm Student Feedback session. Faculty requests or GSI and IA requests can be submitted online.
  • Create your own survey to ask questions about the learning environment, see this example. (Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, University of Michigan)
Communicate (on a syllabus and/or in person with your class) your goal of creating an equitable and inclusive learning environment.