SoTL SHOWCASE: Accessible Assignments through Document Design (5 min lightning talk in 90 minute roundtable)
Since Gen Z has grown up in a visual culture shaped by colorful user interfaces on social media and minimal text, students consume information differently and may feel intimated by dense, text-heavy assignment instructions. The solution for this involves using document design techniques that make assignment prompts easy for students to understand, interpret, and engage with. This includes incorporating more white space, colors, bolding/underlining, and lists into prompts. During a short unit on document design in ENGH 101, I invited students to share feedback on two different assignment prompts for the same Annotated Bibliography. The “standard” prompt provided by the department was dense and confusing, and the other prompt was one that I adapted to include more white space, color, bullet points, and concise language. Students indicated that they preferred the latter, and as a class exercise, I had students help re-design the “standard” prompt to include visual rhetoric techniques that they had learned earlier in the semester. Since then, I have adapted my prompts to include student feedback and there has been noticeably less confusion in assignments. During the SoTL Showcase session in Zoom, I will present slides that give a brief overview of my research, examples from my classroom, and document design strategies to incorporate in assignment prompts. Participants will learn how to incorporate document design techniques into their assignment prompts to make them more accessible to students.