In October of 2020, we attended a three-part workshop, led by Melissa Bowles-Terry from Nevada State University about Transparent Design. The workshop was funded by a Library Services and Technology Act (LTSA) grant called “Revealing the Library’s Hidden Curriculum.”

Transparent design, developed by Mary-Ann Winkelmes, is a tool originally designed for traditional instruction. It lays out a clear purpose, list of skills and knowledge, a task list for an assignment and the criteria for success. Providing transparency sets the student up for success on the assignment, laying out clear expectations, showing them what success looks like and how to get there.

Throughout the workshop, we, as circulation supervisors in academic libraries, felt that the transparent design model could be applied to the way we supervise student work. How impactful would it be to translate the work/tasks our student employees are doing into a tangible purpose, transferable skills/knowledge, providing the criteria for success and finding a deeper meaning to their work?

By reflecting on the work our students are doing through the lens of transparent design we can directly affect student work as a high-impact practice. We tasked ourselves to evaluate and improve our work as student supervisors by combining these two frameworks: high-impact practices (HIP) and transparent design (TD). These are each specific educational tools that we’ve adapted to fit our needs. We will be referring to this combination as High-Impact Transparency (HIT).

For our purposes, the elements that define high-impact practices, originally developed by George Kuh, help us determine what we want students to get out of their job at the library— how it’s benefiting them, and transparent design gives us a structure to convey this goal to our students in a way that empowers them to feel part of the process

While we are not the first to apply these concepts together (see Resources & Recommended Reading) this is a technique that we developed that works for us. We hope you find it useful, too!


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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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