Recent demographic changes in college enrollment have led to an increased emphasis on retaining students. High-impact practices such as transparent assignments are one possible way to encourage student retention, but more empirical data related to student outcomes are needed. In this quasi-experimental study, students received either transparent or standard instructions for written assignments and completed a survey of academic confidence. A pre-test/post-test design was used to examine potential differences associated with instruction type. Results indicated no significant differences in essay scores or survey responses between conditions, and there were no consistent trends indicating improved performance in the transparent condition. Implications for future research, including examining specific elements of transparent instructions, the ideal balance of parsimony and detail, and nondemographic student characteristics such as experience and motivation, are discussed.

Author's Biographies

ELLEN COTTER is a Professor of Psychology at Georgia Southwestern State University. Her primary research interests include caregiving and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She and her co-authors would like to thank Lydia Bentley and Lauren Derrick for their assistance with rubric development, Bunny Byrne for manuscript preparation, and Gary Fisk for statistical support.

KERRI ANN BATTLE is a psychology major at Georgia Southwestern State University. Her interests include student improvement and achievement in minority students.

CEDARIAN C. HOLSENDOLPH is a graduate student at Walden University who is enrolled in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. Program. His interests include youth empowerment, promoting social justice, and studying youth development under the Covid-19 pandemic.

JONATHAN NGUYEN is a graduate student at Georgia State University, who is currently working on his M.Ed. and Ed.S. in School Psychology. He is also a research assistant at GSU. His research includes working to reduce stress, promote social and emotional competence, and improve teachers’ performance and classroom learning environments.

ANNABELLE PRICE SMITH is an undergraduate student at Georgia Southwestern State University currently working on her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her interests include academic improvement for first-generation college students.

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