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

This list offers examples of concrete strategies aligned with applying elements of equity-focused teaching (EfT). If you would like to submit your own example for consideration, please click here.

Explain the learning objectives of the course and how they tie to the assignments and learning activities in your class.
  • 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.)
Explicitly communicate the purpose, task, and assessment criteria for graded assignments. Also, identify any assumed capacities, abilities, skills, or prior knowledge embedded in your assignments or course learning activities, and connect students to resources that help them bolster those skills if necessary.
  • 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)
In course materials, meetings, and communications, express your commitment to creating an accessible, inclusive course. Invite student feedback about practices that do and don’t facilitate that goal.
Do not assume that students know how to address you; let students know how to do so.
  • 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)
Explain the meaning and purpose of office hours when encouraging students to attend.
  • Watch a funny mock-infomercial 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 Nov 18, 2015)
  • Consider sharing this office hour guide which provides students with some tips and suggestions for navigating office hours. 
Share guidance on how students should communicate with you (or others on your instructional team).
  • This might include identifying which kinds of questions/topics are best to raise in office hours vs. over email vs. during class. 
  • Consider offering multiple options (in terms of timing and modality) in order to maintain both transparency and flexibility.
Offer guidance on how students might prioritize various course tasks or requirements and allocate their time strategically.
  • Provide an estimate for how much time an assignment will take and/or about how much time per week the student should allocate for the course.
  • Talk through how you might approach an assignment or project. What steps would you take first and explain why? 
Create dedicated opportunities (time during class, dedicated office hours, online forms, etc.) for students to ask questions about assignments and expectations.
  • 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 information about their own expectations about the learning environment based on their prior experiences to help you understand where your expectations may be mismatched and what you might need to explain.
  • 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)
For writing assignments, explain your expectations around the relative importance of students’ ideas/analysis and their sharing of information or ideas/words published by others. (This can be especially important if you have students who have previously learned in educational systems where deference for expertise is prioritized over original thought.)
  • 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.)
During a class discussion, 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?)
  • See a list of example instructor/student roles for different discussion goals in class on page 16. (Gall, M. D., & Gall, J. P. (1993). “Teacher and Student Roles in Different Types of Classroom Discussions.”).
  • If online discussions are a part of your course, consider the role that you will play in those discussions and communicate that with your students. Online discussions might differ from in-person discussions. Check out this faculty blog post where they share their perspective on how an instructor should facilitate online discussions. 
    • Here is another resource to read more about the 4 roles of an online instructor.