Mary-Ann Winkelmes
Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis University

University of Iowa community members will have an opportunity to hear from the principal investigator of an internationally recognized educational research study, learn how to implement a simple, evidence-based strategy for enhancing learning and student belonging, and have the option of engaging in their own IRB-approved Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) study.  

The OTLT Center for Teaching is delighted to announce that Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) in Higher Education Principal Investigator Mary-Ann Winkelmes will co-facilitate a virtual half-day institute, the Transparency and Equity in Learning and Teaching @Iowa Institute, on Friday, Sept. 17.  

Sparked by a conversation among faculty members in 2008, Winkelmes—Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis University—designed the TILT research study to examine transparency in teaching and explore its impact on student learning. And what began with a single institution, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has grown into an international, multi-institutional research study, encompassing 40 institutions in seven countries and 25,000 students.   

“The TILT study has shown that transparency makes a real difference to students’ sense of belonging, and ultimately to their academic success,” says Tanya Uden-Holman, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of the University College. “This institute is a tremendous opportunity for instructors to learn how to implement transparency strategies in their own classrooms. We’re especially pleased to be able to connect our faculty with Dr. Winkelmes and to benefit from her expertise.”   

A foundational element of TILT is transparent assignment design. It requires instructors to communicate certain aspects of an assignment to students, including the:  

  • Goal or purpose of the task (what students will learn) in conjunction with what course learning objectives it relates to.
  • Task in a way that clarifies what the students will do and how they will do it.
  • Criteria for completing the assignment, along with an example of a successfully completed assignment.  

“By incorporating transparent assignment design into a course, instructors are supporting their students’ needs, fostering a sense of belonging to the course context, and creating a more equitable course,” says Sara Nasrollahian, assistant director in the UI Center for Teaching. 

Nasrollahian, who joined the center in 2019, worked with Winkelmes when Nasrollahian was at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They collaborated on the IMPACT Project, engaging with instructors who wished to build transparency into their courses. Using data from the IMPACT Project, Nasrollahian and her colleagues at the University of Tennessee conducted their own research on retention rates and co-authored a book chapter in Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Leadership

“Instructors can engage with TILT at any level,” says Nasrollahian. “From considering strategies to make their course contexts more transparent, to using evidence from the study to improve their teaching practice, to participating in a systemic study about their teaching—these all bring value to the instructor and their students.” 

Transparency and Equity in Learning and Teaching @Iowa Institute   

This event is co-sponsored by the UI Office of the Provost. 

Participants may register for all or some of the sessions.  

Keynote: Transparency in Learning and Teaching: How Do We Know It Works? (2 to 3 p.m.): Join TILT Principal Investigator Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes (Brandeis) as she explains the origins and impact of the TILT framework.  

Making Your Assignments Transparent (3 to 4 p.m.): Practice incorporating transparent assignment design to communicate course assignments and activities. Co-facilitated by Dr. Winkelmes and Center for Teaching staff.  

Leveraging TILT to Engage in the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) (4 to 5 p.m.): We’ll explore how you can join the TILT research team and conduct IRB-approved research on your course. No previous SoTL experience necessary. Co-facilitated by Dr. Winkelmes and OTLT Research & Analytics and Center for Teaching staff.  

Register for the institute.