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Students at a Tennessee university learned the hard way that you should really read between the lines — and the syllabus.
Kenyon Wilson, the associate head of performing arts at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, revealed he hid clues to a cash prize within his semester’s curriculum to see if the students would actually read it.
They did not.
“On the first day of class I told them there was stuff that had changed, and for them to make sure they read it,” Wilson told CNN , even though he knew he was asking a lot from the 71 students.
“It’s an academic trope that no one reads the syllabus,” Wilson said. “It’s analogous to the terms and conditions when you’re installing software, everyone clicks that they’ve read it when no one ever does.”
Who isn’t guilty of that?
“I know my students read, and I don’t expect them to religiously go through word-by-word, but if they did, I wanted to reward them.”
Within the syllabus for his music seminar class, Wilson left the clue sandwiched between some other text: “Thus (free to the first who claims; locker 147; combination 15, 25, 35), students may be ineligible to make up classes… ”
The combo to locker 147 would have led the reader to a sweet $50 bill – free to the first student who claimed it.
When he checked the locker at the end of the semester, the bill was still there along with the note he left that read, “Congrats! Please leave your name and date so I know who found it.”
Wilson took to Facebook to share the unsurprising results to his experiment.