Syllabus Quiz

Karin Kirk, Science Education Resource Center
and Mel Huff, Geology & Environmental Science Faculty, NEO A&M College
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Initial Publication Date: June 28, 2010 | Reviewed: November 3, 2013


This quiz helps students make sure they understand the important policies of the course before they embark into the course. Because students in online courses need to digest all of the course rules by reading through various documents on the course website, they may miss key aspects of the course structure, leaving them woefully unaware of important course policies.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This could be used in any course, but seems especially relevant for online, introductory-level courses where students are more likely to need additional orientation for the course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Before taking the quiz, students are supposed to have read and digested the course syllabus and other important policies.
Students will also need to know how to login to the course, find the quiz, and submit it. This sounds simple, but many students need reassurance that they will be able to master the technical skills to take an online course.

How the activity is situated in the course

This quiz takes place in the first week of the course. Students must complete this quiz before week 2, when the real course content begins. Some faculty may elect to lock everything beyond the quiz so that students have to complete it prior to proceeding to the rest of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The only goals for this assignment are that the students understand important course policies, such as:
  • attendance
  • point values of various parts of the course
  • rules for plagiarism

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity


Other skills goals for this activity

  • Using the course platform
  • Submitting the quiz

Description of the activity/assignment

This quiz is part of the first unit of the course. The text of two examples quizzes is below, and of course you would want to change the questions and answers to reflect the policies and important points of your own course.

Teaching Tips

Adaptations that allow this activity to be successful in an online environment

This assignment replaces the first day of class when you jump up and down and reiterate how important it is that students know the course policies.

Elements of this activity that are most effective

The effectiveness of a syllabus quiz depends on the students' abilities to remember information and pick out what is important. I have used my quiz for several years. For the most part, I believe it is very effective (even in a face 2 face class) as it forces students to focus on the points I have deemed most important. That said, I still get a few students asking if they can make up an exam, for example. When I remind them about the rules in the syllabus, generally their response is that they have a hard time remember what rules/syllabus go with each course. It is my opinion that students in an online course know and remember the rules a lot better.

Recommendations for other faculty adapting this activity to their own course:

Obviously you can adapt this quiz to the particulars of your own course. I change the questions from semester to semester if the previous class had struggled understanding or remembering part of the syllabus. These questions are the ones that I repeatedly get asked throughout each semester, or ones that students get surprised by.

Determining whether students have met the goals

  • A syllabus quiz is ideal when it is self-grading and students receive instant feedback.
  • If possible, set up the quiz so that they may take the quiz as many times as needed to get all the questions correct.
  • Some faculty do not score the quiz; others may elect to have the quiz grade count so that students take it more seriously.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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