Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
The Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education project (TILT Higher Ed) is an award-winning national educational development and research project that helps faculty to implement a transparent teaching framework that promotes college students' success. The Project's activities include:
- workshops for both faculty and students that promote student's conscious understanding of how they learn,
- online surveys that help faculty to gather, share and promptly benefit from current data about students' learning by coordinating their efforts across disciplines, institutions and countries
- confidential reporting of survey results to faculty
- collaborative research on students' learning experiences.
Since its inception at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2009-2010, the project has involved over twenty-five thousand students in hundreds of courses at more than forty institutions in seven countries. Now housed at UNLV, the project invites participants from all institutions of higher education in the US and abroad. In 2014-2015, the Transparency Project began partnering with the Association of American Colleges and Universities to focus on advancing underserved students' success in higher education.
The voluntary nature of the project allows any instructor to join at any time by signing up online. Instructors’ identities and information remain confidential, while students’ identities are anonymous.
- Instructors invite their students to complete a 7-10-minute online survey about their learning experiences. The survey data complements traditional student ratings of instruction by providing a measure of how students view their learning experiences and learning strengths.
- An individualized, confidential report offers real-time insights to each instructor about how to improve students' learning, based on analysis of the data gathered from their own students and other, similar students in comparable courses.
- Optional workshops offer guidance for participating instructors on how to implement small teaching changes that will enhance their students’ learning, depending on the level and discipline of the course.
For institutions, results can include increased retention and completion rates. For students, results include statistically significant short-term and long-term learning benefits, and greater awareness of critical thinking skills. For participating instructors, individualized reports identify the one small teaching adjustment best suited to improving students’ learning for the specific population of students in their courses. The project’s publications identify which teaching/learning adjustments produce the best learning outcomes, specific to discipline, class size, level of expertise, and student demographics. Ongoing analysis suggests that transparent teaching/learning methods help to increase the success of underserved, underrepresented, first-generation and nontraditional students.
The Project’s 2014-2015 results (Peer Review Fall/Winter 2016) suggest that faculty can contribute to and complement institutions’ efforts to increase underserved students’ success, especially in their first year of college (when the greatest numbers drop out). In courses where students perceived more transparency, they experienced significantly greater learning benefits compared with their classmates who perceived less transparency around assignments in the same course. Specifically, students who received more transparency reported gains in three areas that are important predictors of students’ success: academic confidence, sense of belonging, and mastery of the skills that employers value most when hiring. While the benefits for all students in the aggregate who received more transparency were statistically significant, the benefits for first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students were larger with a medium-to-large sized magnitude of effect. (This chart indicates the gains for first generation college students in our study.)
Important studies have already connected academic confidence and sense of belonging with students’ greater persistence and higher grades (Walton and Cohen 2011, Aronson et al 2002, Paunesku et al 2015), while recent national surveys identify the skills that employers value most, especially when hiring new employees (Hart 2015 and 2013). Our 2014-2015 study identified transparent teaching about problem-centered learning as an easily replicable teaching method that produces learning benefits already linked with students’ success.
- Transparent 2nd Tuesdays at 2 p.m. (online support sessions)
- To bring a Transparency Project workshop to your institution, please contact Mary-Ann Winkelmes at [email protected].
- Frequently asked questions
- Transparent Methods: Examples
- Winkelmes, Mary-Ann, Matthew Bernacki, Jeffrey Butler, Michelle Zochowski, Jennifer Golanics, and Kathryn Harriss Weavil. "A Teaching Intervention that Increases Underserved College Students’ Success." Peer Review (Winter/Spring 2016).
- Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning. (Winter/Spring 2016) Peer Review vol.18, no. 1/2.
- Winkelmes, Mary-Ann. “Helping Faculty Use Assessment Data to Provide More Equitable Learning Experiences.” NILOA Guest Viewpoints. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, March 17, 2016.
- Sodoma, Brian. “The End of Busy Work.” UNLV Magazine 24,1 (Spring 2016): 16-19.
- Cook, Lisa and Daniel Fusch. "One Easy Way Faculty Can Improve Student Success." Academic Impressions (March 10, 2016).
- Head, Alison and Kirsten Hosteller. "Mary-Ann Winkelmes: Transparency in Teaching and Learning," Project Information Literacy, Smart Talk Interview, no. 25. Creative Commons License 3.0: 2 September 2015.
- Winkelmes, Mary-Ann, et al. David E. Copeland, Ed Jorgensen, Alison Sloat, Anna Smedley, Peter Pizor, Katharine Johnson, and Sharon Jalene. “Benefits (some unexpected) of Transparent Assignment Design.” National Teaching and Learning Forum, 24, 4 (May 2015), 4-6.
- Winkelmes, Mary-Ann. “Equity of Access and Equity of Experience in Higher Education.” National Teaching and Learning Forum, 24, 2 (February 2015), 1-4.
- Cohen, Dov, Emily Kim, Jacinth Tan, Mary-Ann Winkelmes, “A Note-Restructuring Intervention Increases Students’ Exam Scores.” College Teaching vol. 61, no. 3 (2013): 95-99.
- Winkelmes, Mary-Ann. “ "Transparency in Teaching: Faculty Share Data and Improve Students' Learning.” Liberal Education Association of American Colleges and Universities (Spring 2013).
- Winkelmes, Mary-Ann. “Transparency in Learning and Teaching: Faculty and students benefit directly from a shared focus on learning and teaching processes.” NEA Higher Education Advocate (January 2013): 6 - 9.
- In Progress:
- Picker, Caleb, Matthew Bernacki, Tondra De, Mary-Ann Winkelmes. “A Critical Analysis of the Transparency in Teaching and Learning Survey: Factor Structure, Criterion-Related Validity, and Predictive Utility.” Spring 2015 in progress.
- Ryjova, Yana. "What is the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Project (TILT Higher Ed)? Interview with Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes." Hixson-Lied Success Scholar Newsletter. Las Vegas: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Academic Success Center, March 2016.
- Sodoma, Brian. "Forget the What: It's the How and Why That Matters." UNLV News Center, January 21, 2016.
- Summers, Keyonna. “Newsmakers 2015: People.” UNLV News Center, January 7, 2016.
- Berrett, Dan.“The Unwritten Rules of College.” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 21, 2015.
- Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, “Researchers say as college demographics change, so must teaching.” 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio. March 13, 2015.
- “Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning.” Association of American Colleges and Universities website, retrieved November 5, 2014.
- “Mary-Ann Winkelmes and UNLV's Transparency in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Project.” Accomplishments, UNLV News Center, September 2014.
- “New Project Will Engage Minority-Serving Institutions to Research Effect of Faculty Intentionality in Problem-Centered Educational Practices on the Success of Students Who Have Historically Been Underserved in Higher Education.” Association of American Colleges & Universities press release, August 4, 2014.
- “UNLV Partners with AAC&U to Lead National Project to Improve Under-Represented Students’ Success.” UNLV Research and Economic Development press release. August 7, 2014.
- Robert J. Menges Award for Outstanding Research in Educational Development, 2012, from Professional Organizational Development Network in Higher Education
- TG Philanthropy grant in partnership with Association of American Colleges and Universities (2014 – 2015)
Institutional Review Board Documentation
University of Illinois
- Application to Institutional Review Board, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Exempt Research Application
- University of Illinois Institutional Review Board Certification of principal investigator
- Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Certification of principal investigator
- Approvals from Institutional Review Board, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Approvals from Institutional Review Board, University of Nevada, Las Vegas:
- August 23, 2013 Application for Exempt Status and Approval
- November 2014 Modification request, Updated exempt application, Approval
- September 2015 Modification Request and October 13, 2015 Approval
- December 2015 Modification Request and Approval
- July 12 2016 modification request and approval
- July 28, 2016 modification request and approval
- July 28, 2016 continuing review approval
- August 2016 modification request and September 1, 2016 approval
- October 27, 2016 modification request and approval
- Principal Investigator's Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Certification
Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research
Office of Faculty, Policy, and Research