A Syllabus Scavenger Hunt

Decorative: A sad syllabus saying in a thought bubble, "Sigh. No one ever reads me."


A. "Getting Students to Attend to Important Course Information: First Day MyCourses 'Scavenger Hunt'" (web post) outlines one professor's "active learning" approach to engaging the students with the syllabus in the first week of classes through a scavenger-hunt style "awareness-raising activity."

The post includes the following:

  • The reasons for the instructor's innovation
  • The instructions made available to the students
  • The "scavenger-hunt" questions posed
  • The means of submission for responses
  • The instructor's assessment and response to the student input
  • The effect and benefits of this approach to syllabus presentation

B. The Task "Find It in myCourse[link]"

1. The Process

"On the first day of class, students now have to engage in an awareness-raising activity whereby they have to find important information in the course outline."

  • From a list [see below] ..., ... select 6-8 search questions that will draw students’ attention to important information in the course outline and to main features of the course website."
  • "Using a mobile device (e.g., laptop or tablet), students work in pairs or small groups to search for the answers."
  • "The activity takes 10-15 minutes of class time."

2. The Assignment & Questions

a. "Work in pairs or small groups to find the answers to the questions below." 

  • "When you’ve finished, each pair or group should post the answers to the discussion forum in myCourse[link] entitled Find It in myCourses." 
  • Include all group members’ names in the posting.

b. "Find the course outline. Search it for the answers to these questions":

  • "Where are the assignments and assessments described? [...(P)ost the details and example assignments in myCourse[link], not in the course outline.]"
  • "How should you submit your assignments?"
  • "On which days will there be in-class quizzes?"
  • "Will hard copy assignments be accepted?"
  • "What’s the policy in this course for submitting late assignments?"
  • "Where are the textbook and course pack sold?"
  • "What does the policy on Academic Integrity say? Summarize it in 140 characters."
  • "How quickly will I (the instructor) reply to your e-mail or phone messages?"
  • "What’s the policy in this course for the use of electronic devices in the classroom?"

c. "Return to the myCourses course home page, and find the answers to these questions."

  • "What are the instructions for the first assignment?"
  • "You will have online quizzes in this course. Find the Surprise Quiz. What’s the first question in the quiz? You don’t have to do the quiz."
  • "Find the supplementary course readings. What’s the title of the first reading?"
  • "Which of the Quick Links are you most likely to use on a regular basis? [I’ve created a Quick Links widget for the home page.]"
  • "What information is in the calendar under today’s date? [Assuming you’ve posted some information.]"
  • "What information appears under Announcements? [Assuming you’ve posted some information.]"
  • "Find the Email icon. Send me an email that says, “We’re really enjoying this activity.” [Humour can help establish rapport.]"

c. Assessment

  • "[S]kim students’ answers before the next class to check that they’ve done the activity the way [you'd] hoped."
  • "If [you] do notice gaps in students’ ability to find the requisite information, ... address them in the next class or online by posting an 'answer key.'"
  • "[S]till state explicitly to students that it remains their responsibility to read the entire course outline, and ... still provide students the opportunity to ask questions about the course outline and myCourse[link] content."
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