Scavenger hunt exam gives students a new spin on finals week

GVL / Courtesy - Jill Wolfe 
CAP 320 scavanger hunt

Jill Wolfe

GVL / Courtesy – Jill Wolfe CAP 320 scavanger hunt

Shae Slaughter

Many students dread finals week and the wealth of tests that comes along with it. Often, a final exam includes multiple choice questions, short answers or the choice of true or false.

Jill Wolfe, an advertising and public relations professor at Grand Valley State University, worked to change the norms for her class. As a first-time teacher, Wolfe knew that she “wanted to do something kind of fun and different than the normal fill-in-the-bubbles.” She saw an opportunity within her upper-level public relations cases and management class to help the students engage with their final exam.

The premise of the exam was a scavenger hunt, a concept Wolfe specializes in as a partial owner of Distel Wolfe Scavenger Hunts. With experience running a business known for organizing large-scale scavenger hunts for various organizations and corporations, a hunt for her class was a logical progression. These scavenger hunts can be extremely useful in terms of teaching and team building, she said.

Wolfe’s business was used at some times as a teaching point throughout the course.

“We were participating and evaluating Wolfe’s business and able to use the knowledge we garnered all semester to complete the scavenger hunt, as well as look at her scavenger hunt as the final case study,” said Emily Oldenkamp, a student in Wolfe’s class.

The scavenger hunt centered on incorporating all of the knowledge and skills taught throughout the semester. Students were given a list with over 30 items they could accomplish within groups to receive points. Items on the hunt included necessities in public relations like acting out interviews, discussing strategy or finding real-world examples of important in-class concepts.

“The scavenger hunt facilitated an atmosphere and skillset much more on par with what we can expect in the real world,” Oldenkamp said.

However, all work and no play was not the plan for this final, which is why a “just for fun” category was also included. In this section, students could earn points for things like taking a selfie with a record or taking a selfie with a bartender while making a mean face. Allowing the students free reign of downtown Grand Rapids also amped up the excitement.

Overall, class members had a positive reaction to this unorthodox exam.

“It made it easier going into finals week and a bit less stressful knowing that there was going to be something fun, but also engaging towards the class,” said Chandler Bonner-Wilson, another of Wolfe’s students.

Not only did the scavenger hunt help students reflect on what they learned in the classroom, but it also allowed them to further their relationship with their group members. Groups were an integral part of Wolfe’s class, due to many earlier group presentations. The final hunt helped students use teamwork in a real-world situation.

“My students’ ability to be creative and strategic will make a huge difference in the workplace, and it obviously demonstrated that in their final,” Wolfe said.