Here is a small change in teaching that can have huge impacts on learning: Make assignments more transparent.
Though teachers may have concrete academic outcomes in mind, these expectations may not always be explicitly clear to students, especially underrepresented and first generation college students. Researcher Mary-Ann Winkelmes shows how there are often many unwritten rules embedded in assignments. Simply decoding these rules -- and showing students how to decode themselves -- can lead to measurable increases in academic confidence, sense of belonging, and mastery of skills that employers value. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make clear the purpose, tasks, and criteria of assignments. It also helps to provide multiple examples of excellent and inadequate work.
"Transparent teaching and learning methods explicitly focus on how and why students are learning course content in particular ways" - Mary-Ann Winkelmes
See examples of less and more transparent assignment handouts at the TILT website.
Winkelmes, M., Bernacki, M., Butler, J., Zochowski, M., Golanics, J., & Weavil, K. (2016). A teaching intervention that increases underserved college students’ success). Peer Review, 18(1-2), 31–36. Sherrod Library link.