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Bonus Quizzes to entice students to read their syllabus?

Course Queries Syllabus Queries
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Katie George


( 5 months ago )

Please inform me if this needs to be moved to the meta questions forum, I wasn't sure whether this would qualify or not

As I'm sure many lecturers/professors would attest, one of the frustrations of teaching can be the continuous asking of questions that had a student read their syllabus and/or navigated the online learning site, would have most likely been answered.

I spend a lot of time on my syllabus, and even more time on the learning site we use. I have an abundance of extra resources to help students out and everything is neatly organised. Regardless, I still receive countless emails and questions not about the content of the course, but when my office hours are or where my office is, or when is the assignment due, or do they have to attend class, and so on.

In speaking with a number of academics, some of the solutions have been creating assessments based solely on the syllabus, such as a 5% quiz in the first week of class. A colleague of mine who was concerned about students not knowing how to navigate the library created an assessment where students had to go to the library and answer a set of questions.

My faculty is quite strict about assessment tasks though, and I've been informed I can only have a max of 2-3 in my unit, so I'd rather not waste them on a syllabus test.

I was thinking about setting up some online bonus mark quizzes where students who wanted to earn a little extra credit could complete them. They wouldn't be worth much, maybe .5% per quiz, perhaps totaling to a bonus of 2.5% or something similar. They'd be on the syllabus, the learning website, perhaps a research bonus quiz (navigating online databases) and so on.

Other than consulting with faculty policy about the use of bonus marks:

  1. Lecturers/Professors, have you used bonus quizzes/bonus marks? What might be some things I need to consider? Do you think this would at all be effective?

  2. Students, would the opportunity to complete some bonus quizzes for a little extra credit entice you enough to actually read the syllabus and take some time exploring the learning site?

EDIT: My course is a social science course and considered 'subjective' in its content as its qualitative and not quantitative, so no student can earn 100% on their assessments alone. I think the highest marks we can give out are around 94-95, so an additional 2.5% would still keep students under the 100% mark.

Nageshwer Reddy


( 5 months ago )

I'd avoid setting summative assessments (i.e. for course credit) on topics other than the subject material you expect the students to learn. Doing so might come back to bite you, even if you keep the relative contribution to a final grade as low as you are suggesting.

Perhaps you could spend half of your first lecture rhetorically asking the sort of frequently asked questions that get your goat, while at the same time navigating your course webpage, to show where a student will find the answer to your questions. After reading out five or so of the most commonly asked questions, the students will get the message:- the answer is likely to be on the webpage. Look for it.

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