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Students and Attendance

I have been chatting with colleagues about students and attendance in courses. What do we do to get students in the classroom? Better yet–wanting to come to class and ready to participate might actually offer the correct comment or want by faculty. I have incorporated attendance and participation into the way that I evaluate the students, but I have also not assessed their attendance and participation.

What have I found? It’s a pain to take roll, yes, but I find that I learn the students’ names faster, when I take roll. Students can come to class and not really be there-not want to be there and might be doing their math homework for all I know. I find that for early morning courses, I really have to peppy and be prepared to perform more. I have to wake them up and I have to make the class “worth” it for them to wake up early and come to campus. I also find that when participation is used to evaluate them, they are more apt to come to class.

There is no easy way to answer this question. Why? Some terms this is not a point of concern, as the stars will align and you don’t even have to worry about it. I find that attendance also varies between the type of class–large lecture, small lecture, seminar and the year of the student. Then, add to this the type of student: keener, good, enthusiastic, year of the student, major, minor, etc. There are so many factors outside of an instructor’s control.

Thinking of my undergraduate career, I know that I attended class all the time. I was a keener and would always make sure that my work schedule never conflicted with my school schedule. I also looked at my attendance at university as a privilege (first generation college student). I would look around the room at all these “new” people during the mid-term and wondered why they never came to class. Before anyone comments that students today are working–been there, done that. I was often working two jobs and volunteering at the radio station, paper, or student club(s).

When I am wearing my professorial hat, I also know that there is a correlation between good attendance and good marks. But, I can talk about this until I am red in the face and only some students will listen to this point or “get” it. I do feel bad for the students who are phoning it in and really don’t seem like they want to be in class or at university. But, that is probably another blog post!

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