Your course shouldn’t be a mystery. Transparent teaching:
- Explains the rationale behind course design and course elements
- Makes clear to students why they are being asked to do a task
- Helps students understand the value of the work
- Can be used to cede some authority and agency from the instructor to students
- Empowers students in decision-making about course materials, activities and objectives
- Allows students to participate in goal-setting and performance expectations
Transparent teaching practices are particularly important for the current generation of students who will not simply do an activity because they are told to do so. Students want to know why they’re being asked to do something and what its purpose is. Faculty can facilitate student engagement by telling students why you designed the course the way you did. Tell them why you chose to use a particular reading or activity. Tell them why you chose one reading or activity over several others. Clarify what you expect students to get from an experience. Then ask them what they actually got from it.
This generation of students also responds to some participation in decision-making. Ask students to participate in decisions like determining among a group of readings which one the class will do; allowing students to determine for themselves which among a set of readings or activities they will choose to do; ask students as a collective to determine how a group project will be evaluated or what constitutes work that would receive an ‘A’ or what would be insufficient.
These are all powerful tools that have been shown to improve both student engagement and depen learning.
Finally, some faculty like to reveal each week’s Canvas course materials one week at a time, but showing everything in the course up front can help students make better planning decisions.