The hint read, “So (free for the first to claim; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five), students may not be eligible to make up classes and…”
This would have led the students to a locker with a $50 bill, free for the first student to claim it.
But at the end of the semester, when he went to check the locker, the bill was still there.
“It’s an academic trope that nobody reads the syllabus,” Wilson told DailyExpertNews. “It’s analogous to the terms and conditions when you install software, everyone clicks that they’ve read it and nobody ever does.”
“There’s a standard boilerplate that doesn’t change. The university brought us a lot of legal stuff at the end,” Wilson added. “But on the first day of class, I told them things had changed, and they had to make sure they read it.”
When Wilson put the reward in the locker, he left a note that read “Congratulations! Please leave your name and date so I know who found it.” He was also sure to put the combination lock with a certain number in the noon position, to determine if students had tampered with the lock, but the combination was not even turned.
“I was hopeful and I would be just as happy to have this conversation if any of my students found it in the first week.” Wilson told DailyExpertNews.
Haley Decker, a recent college graduate, has been attending Wilson’s seminar-style class for the past three and a half years and was one of the students who couldn’t find the hidden money last semester.
“I honestly thought it was hilarious.” Decker told DailyExpertNews. “This class is usually the same format each semester, so students know what to expect and don’t take the time to read the syllabus as we should.”
Decker said she texted a group of friends in her class and everyone thought it was a smart move on Wilson’s part. “I think this was a really smart experiment for Dr. Wilson to test out,” Decker said. “It certainly made music students realize that despite repeated information, you still need to read your syllabus carefully.”
the professor notes that it was all fun.
“I know my students read, and I don’t expect them to go through religious word for word, but when they did, I wanted to reward them.” Wilson told DailyExpertNews.
“Everyone was guilty of having absolutely no idea it was in there.” said Decker. “We all admitted that we briefly reviewed that part of the syllabus because that policy is in every syllabus for every class you take.”
Wilson’s Facebook post not only sparked a response from students, but also sparked an idea for other professors and educators across the country. “Maybe spring 2022 will be the best-read syllabi ever.” noted Wilson.