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Using a syllabus quiz to reinforce course expectations

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The course syllabus is used to set expectations in your class. It should cover all sorts of critical details for how a student can succeed in the course and how to interact with you, the instructor. But how do you know if the student has actually digested the contents (and the importance) of the syllabus? Why not use a syllabus quiz? It can cover topics like:

  • how to communicate with the instructor

  • when office hours are

  • what your expectations about academic honesty are

  • how and when work will be graded

  • how much time to expect to spend on coursework each week

  • if late work is accepted, and what penalty exists for late work

  • what the expectations for participation are

Including a mandatory syllabus quiz during your course intro module is a great way to start off the course with well defined expectations that both you and the students understand and agree to.

Some sample questions:

  1. You can contact your instructor via (multiple choice):

    1. email

    2. phone

    3. discussion board

    4. d2l email

    5. carrier pigeon

  2. Work is due each week by Friday at 8pm (TF)

    1. True

    2. False

  3. You should check your course how many times per week for updates? (multiple choice)

    1. once a week

    2. on days ending in Y

    3. at least once a day

    4. you should always be logged in and continuously be pressing refresh

  4. You can get a good grade in this course by (choose all that apply)

    1. posting a response to all discussion messages

    2. posting meaningful responses to discussion posts

    3. studying for quizzes

    4. turning in work on time

    5. contacting the instructor with questions

    6. using online tutoring

    7. coming to campus

Obviously, the options vary as greatly as the contents of your syllabus. The questions should focus on the most critical details. Do you have any questions that you use in your course?

About Andy Freed

I'm the Manager of Online Learning Technology & Student Success in Online Learning, where I oversee our infrastructure, technical support, and online student services teams. I've been with the College since 2001 and have worked in sever... more »

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There is one comment for this article. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by Robert Burns 4 years ago

I am a strong proponent of the syllabus quiz. For my Writing 90 class, my syllabus quiz is a diagnostic test for the students’ ability to identify basic grammatical errors. There are word-based grammatical errors like spelling, word choice, subject-verb, and pronoun agreement errors in the syllabus, and I have my students identify those errors. They turn in their syllabi for grading, and I return the syllabi afterwards.

My Reading 90 quiz is much like Andy’s. I ask questions that are critical to the students’ understanding of the course. Not only does it reinforce comprehension of syllabus content, but I have also used it as support when I have been in conflict with a student. If a student contacts my department chair about a specific issue, I refer the student to the syllabus and his/her syllabus quiz answer about that issue. That pretty much resolves the conflict.

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