What is the Purpose?

Purpose is the reason for which something is done, is created or exists.

In transparent design, the purpose is a clear statement that you give to students that explains the “why” of the task you are asking them to do.

This statement should be in student-friendly language and shouldn’t be confused with the task. Example: the purpose of shelving (the task) is not to shelve the books (still the task), but to maintain a system of reliably locating books in a collection.

Ask yourself these questions when assigning a student a task:

  • Why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • What knowledge will students gain?
  • What skills will students be practicing?
  • How will the knowledge and skills relate to their future goals?
  • Do students have the foundational skills to complete what they are being asked to do?


The purpose statement includes skills that the student will practice. How do we expound on the skills that are required to complete the task?

In our shelving example, we could use Bloom’s assignment cue, “arrange” to describe a skill: arranging books in the correct order on the shelf.


In addition to skills, the purpose statement also discusses the knowledge that will be needed, gained or utilized through completing the task.  What makes knowledge different from skills?

  • Knowledge is usually a noun.
  • Knowledge is discipline focused.
    • This means a precise process or tool you use in your library/workspace.

In our shelving example, the Library of Congress call number system is knowledge needed to arrange books in the correct order on the shelf.

Adding Purpose to Your Training

You can build the purpose into any aspect of your training and can adapt the discussions to your training or supervising style. Here are some examples of where and when it can be used:

  • Written in as context into your training checklists
  • Spoken about in collaboration with the student during training/retraining/introduction of new tasks
  • A part of a knowledge repository/Moodle training/Wikis around tasks

Supporting your student workers can look a lot of different ways, but helping them to see the ways in which the work they are doing connects to their current studies or life and connects to their future goals will help them find meaning in what they do. In turn, they will have an increased sense of confidence and belonging.




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High-Impact Transparency for Supervising Student Workers Copyright © 2021 by Haylee Croydon and Jennifer Wells is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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