2. Be clear


Clear teaching means communicating in a way that students understand what they are learning, why, and how they can show that learning.


In his book Visible Learning, John Hattie ranks teacher clarity as the second most impactful intervention a teacher can practice to positively impact student learning. (The first is micro teaching for more on this see 5. Be reflective). Clear teaching reduces cognitive load.


More is not necessarily better. Channel your inner Marie Kondo, if it doesn’t give you joy, delete it! Cutting away aspects of instruction that don't help learning by identifying the most critical parts of instruction is key to being clear.

Teacher clarity has four dimensions:

1. Clear organisation

  • Aim for a purposeful narrative structure that is evident from the beginning. Does your course tell a story you scroll down through the topics in your course page?
  • Check the clarity of your learning objectives (LOs) and refer to them regularly during the course.
  • Review previously covered concepts and how they fit into the course overview (you might consider using a concept map for this purpose).
  • Organise content in Moodle to avoid the scroll of death: Folders, Moodle pages for lists of links, Moodle Books can all help.
  • Set up a library reading list (see your friendly liaison librarian for assistance.)
  • Streamline, streamline, streamline: Use groups and restrictions so students only see relevant items, delete unused resources/topics/blocks, hide descriptions off the main page if not crucial.
  • Streamline the communications students receive (e.g. one weekly Moodle announcement with four points rather than four separate announcements with one point each.)

2. Clear explanations

  • Avoid overwhelming students by presenting small amounts of new information at one time.
  • Give clear reasons for tasks. Understanding why something is important helps engage learners (for more engaging ideas see 4. Be engaging).
  • Use visuals.
  • Consider the length of your videos. Record short videos with a clear focus,
  • When writing for the web, keep paragraphs short (3 - 4 sentences max).
  • Use headings/pictures/bullet points to break up large chunks of text.

3. Clear examples and guided practice

  • Provide worked examples/exemplars. Breaking down complex tasks into smaller steps can help students focus.
  • Make videos of you talking through examples, especially related to a single objective. Working out loud or elaborating on a task aids student understanding.

4. Clear assessment of student learning

  • Give clear instructions for assessments using plain language. (Contact a CeTTL teaching developer or eLearning designer if you would like some feedback on your instructions.)
  • Explain the links between your learning outcomes, activities and assessments (sometimes called constructive alignment.)
  • Provide students with marking criteria before they complete assessment tasks.
  • Provide examples of similar student work from previous years.

Consider using our Teacher clarity self-assessment form to get feedback from your students.