I've been thinking about trying something with my class and I would be curious to hear whether any of you have done something like it. Our class has a website where I post all materials for the students to download at their convenience. The lectures go up there after each class and any readings do as well. The one thing that the website doesn't allow me to do is find out how many times each document has been downloaded.
When it comes to class readings I'm fairly sure that half the class doesn't even download what I've asked them to read, let alone actually read it. I was trying to figure out ways to encourage them at least look the material over, as it would make my job in class a lot easier. Not much came to mind, but I did realize that I could reward the ones that do the reading by placing immediate incentives in the readings. The first thing I thought of was including a page at the end of a document I have asked them to read, which asks them to contact me by email to receive an extra point on the upcoming exam. In the grand scheme of things, one percentage point on the exam means little, but no one who reads that will hesitate to send me an email.
I know that is hardly a fool proof way to get an idea whether any of them are keeping up on the reading, but it might provide some incentive for a few, and if I point it out after the fact, perhaps more will at least look at what I post. Besides holding them to the readings on tests or making quizes to do the same, are there other good ways to "encourage" keeping up on class material? Should I even care, as long as they show up, stay awake and don't fail the tests?