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.

View the Survey Questions Sign Up to Participate

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.

Impact

For institutions, results can include increased retention and completion rates. For participating instructors, individualized reports identify small teaching adjustments best suited to improving students’ learning for the specific population of students in their courses. Ongoing analysis explores teaching/learning adjustments that improve learning outcomes, specific to discipline, class size, level of expertise, and student demographics.

A national study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, funded by TG Philanthropy, demonstrated that transparency around academic work enhances students’ success at statistically significant levels, with even greater benefits for historically underserved students (with a medium-to-large sized magnitude of effect) [Winkelmes et al., Peer Review 2016]. Students who receive transparent instruction about the purposes, tasks and criteria for their academic work report 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.

Important studies have already connected academic confidence and sense of belonging with students’ greater persistence and higher grades [Walton and Cohen, Science 2011; Aronson, Fried, Good, 2002].

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Institutional Review Board Documentation

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Contact

Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research
Office of Faculty, Policy, and Research
mary-ann.winkelmes@unlv.edu

Copyright © 2014 Mary-Ann Winkelmes.
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