Create Transparent Assignments

This article provides tips and examples to create purpose and transparency in assignments.


Transparent assignments help students understand not just what they will be doing, but why they are doing it and how it applies to learning goals. The suggestions below can benefit all student groups in achieving success in their studies.

How to Create Transparent Assignments

A transparent assignment will address purpose, task, and criteria.


Defining the purpose will connect the activity to the learning objectives for the unit and for the course. It will also address the relevance of the activity by linking it to student goals and professional practice. To check whether purpose is defined, ask these questions:

  • What knowledge or skills will be gained by doing the assignment?

  • Why is that knowledge important?

  • How will the knowledge or skills be used?


The activity directions will clearly state what needs to be done and what the student is ultimately producing. The language used to describe the task is best when it is complete and concise. Review task instructions by asking these questions:

  • What needs to be done to complete the assignment?

  • How can the task be accomplished?

  • Are there pitfalls to avoid?

  • How much of a time investment is expected?

  • Is there a recommended approach or sequence of tasks to complete the assignment?


Define for students the characteristics of a successful assignment. Include specific and descriptive criteria that will be used for evaluation.

  • What does excellence look like?

  • Is there a checklist or rubric students can use to self evaluate?

  • Are there examples of high quality work that would guide students to success?

Examples and Templates

Use the Boise State University eCampus Learning Activity Design Template for a step-by-step guide through designing a transparent assignment. 

In addition, these resources provide examples:

Related Information


Need more help? Try eCampus Center Faculty Development.
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