By Terri J. Matiella, Ph.D.
UTSA 2020-21 Next-Gen Faculty Fellow
Co-Director, Core Curriculum and Assessment for Environmental Science
Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science and Ecology
We’ve all heard students ask, “When will we use this in real life?” While we know the purpose of the assignments we are asking students to complete, do they?
Sharing the purpose and relevance of assignments can improve students’ academic confidence, sense of belonging, and mastery of important skills. You can frame your rationale for the assignment either through a short video or as part of written instructions using three steps:
- What you will do: Explain the assignment or task the student will complete
- Why you are doing it: Explain the reasons this assignment will help the student be successful
- How to do it: Include detailed instructions, rubrics, checklists, and examples to help students include all required parts and understand the expectations.
The assignment can be deployed through Blackboard. A video can be made with Panopto or Playposit, and you could even include clarifying questions about the assignment requirements for students to answer. Rubrics can be created in Blackboard and used for grading the assignment as well as informing students about the expectations.
For More Review:
- Darby, F. (with Lang, J. M.). (2019). Small teaching online: Applying learning science in online classes. Jossey-Bass.
- Winkelmes, M.-A., Copeland, D. E., Jorgensen, E., Sloat, A., Smedley, A., Pizor, P., Johnson, K., & Jalene, S. (2015). Benefits (some unexpected) of transparently designed assignments. National Teaching & Learning Forum, 24(4), 4–6.
- Milman, N. (2020). Tips for Success: The Online Instructor’s Guide to Making Assignment Descriptions More Transparent. Distance Learning (Greenwich, Conn.), 17(4), 57–58.
- Bhavsar, V. (2020). A Transparent Assignment to Encourage Reading for a Flipped Course. College Teaching, 68(1), 33–44.
- Best Practices for Teaching Online
- Teaching Resources