Transparent Design

Transparent design is a practice which makes explicit for students the purpose, task, and criteria for success in each assignment.  


  • Skills that will be practiced in an assignment
  • Content knowledge gained from doing an assignment
  • How skills and content knowledge from the assignment can translate beyond the context of the course


  • What students are expected to do for the assignment
  • How students should complete the assignment (recommended steps, mistakes to avoid, essential background knowledge)

Criteria for Success

  • Grading criteria (checklist, rubric, etc.)
  • Annotated examples of successful work (What's good about the examples, referencing the grading checklist)

Transparent design can be a great resource for explicitly aligning your assignments with your course, program, or institutional Student Learning Outcomes. Research indicates that making small changes toward transparency in course assignments can lead to greater success for all students, but in particular traditionally disadvantaged groups such as students of color or first-generation students.

Much of the research on Transparent Assignment Design comes from Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) Higher Ed.  For more information and resources, please visit the links on the sidebar to the right.