Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning

AAC&U’s LEAP project—“Transparency and Problem-Centered Learning”—is designed to further existing knowledge about the relationship between high-impact practices and underserved student success.

Funded by TG Philanthropy and part of AAC&U’s Making Excellence Inclusive and The LEAP Challenge initiatives, this campus-based research project will provide insights into the effects of problem-centered curricular designs, particularly integrative learning in general education programs, and transparent teaching practices on underserved students’ learning and success. 

Under the leadership of AAC&U researchers, Tia McNair, Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success, and Ashley Finley, Senior Director of Assessment and Research, the project will examine the degree to which faculty intentionality to clearly articulate expectations for student learning and to implement problem-centered instructional strategies serve to deepen student learning. The project builds upon existing research on the role of transparency in teaching, high-impact practices, and the use of AAC&U’s Integrative Learning and Problem Solving VALUE rubrics for the direct assessment of student work to advance understanding of effective practices for underserved students’ development and success. AAC&U is partnering with Dr. Mary-Ann Winkelmes of the Transparency in Teaching and Learning Project at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and AAC&U Senior Fellow for this research.

The following LEAP Challenge Minority-Serving Institutions will participate:

  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • Community College of Philadelphia
  • Heritage University
  • St. Edward's University
  • Queensborough Community College of The City University of New York
  • University of Houston-Downtown
  • Winston-Salem State University

AAC&U Project Staff: Tia McNairAshley Finley, Dawn Whitehead, and Michael Smith

Program Goals

This project will provide insights into the role of problem-centered designs for promoting learning, particularly integrative learning across general education courses, for underserved students. The project will engage faculty in an inter-institutional learning community to develop promising practices for increasing transparency and clarity of assignment goals and learning expectations for students. The project also will assist campuses in developing their capacity to implement and to gather direct assessments of learning using students’ own work.