Class Attendance: The Key to Academic Excellence.

by Benjamin Skye | June 17, 2011 | Blogs 0 Comments

Most university students in the U.S. frown upon professors who require them to attend classes or lectures regularly. However, more and more universities are beginning to take into consideration how regular class attendance is the number one predictor of a students academic success. Here’s what I think about the subject…

More and more universities are making attendance a part of the student's class grade.

More and more universities are making attendance a part of the student's class grade.

My father graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a degree in computer engineering in the early 90s. When I was growing up, father would tell me stories about what life was like studying abroad in the United States. I used to be very envious of him whenever he would mention how professors at his university did not expect students to come to class, as long as they were able to do well in the exams.

Now that I am 21 and an official university undergraduate, I have come to realize how important class attendance is for academic success. A recent article I read on the Chronicle of Higher Education merely confirms what my four years of experience at Hardin-Simmons University has taught me.

In the article titled “Just Showing Up: Educators Focus on Attendance to Help Students Succeed”, the author cites a research conducted by three professors from the State University of New York at Albany describing the relationship between a students’ class attendance and academic performance. In their research, Marcus Credé, Sylvia G. Roch, and Urszula M. Kieszczynka found that showing up for class was a stronger predictor of high marks in college than were many other commonly used predictors, including study habits, study skills, high-school grade-point averages, and scores on the SAT and other standardized tests. The article also quotes Ken O’Donnell, associate dean of academic programs and policy in the Cal State system suggesting that the connection between attendance and academic success is particularly important for helping more minority students (especially international students) succeed.

Unlike most public universities where professors are not required to take attendance or consider attendance as a part of a student’s grade, Hardin-Simmons University students are expected to make regular class attendance a habit.  As much as I found it difficult some times to wake up in the morning to attend class, especially when I had spent the previous night staying up to work on a project (or to hang out with friends), I have grown to appreciate the HSU attendance policy. According to the HSU student handbook, university policy requires all students to attend classes regularly. HSU Professors have the right to give an automatic “F” (Fail) to any student who misses more than 25% of class sessions in a single semester.

Imagine if your class looked like this...

Imagine if your class looked like this...

Having discussed the issue of attendance with several of my professors, I realized that class attendance is important, not just for the student, but for the professors as well. Because most classes at HSU are relatively small (often no larger than 30 students), professors need students to hold them accountable as well by showing up. If no one shows up for class, professors will not be able to do their jobs. This relationship is somewhat representative of the kind of relationship employers and employees share in the workplace. If a student does not begin to cultivate the habit of showing up for two to three hours of classes a day, how is he or she going to meet the minimal requirement of showing up for a 9-5 job?

Personally, I consider myself as someone who takes their academic work very seriously. I strive to make good grades and to learn as much as I can from my teachers. Yet at the same time, I would be lying if I said that I have not benefited from the attendance policy at HSU. Realizing the need to show up for classes contributed greatly to my academic success. By attending class regularly, I have the opportunity to learn, not just about the class material, but about the culture and the people I am in contact with. While in class, I am encouraged to express my views as well as listen to the experiences of other students. This widens my perspective on life and helps me become a more creative problem-solver. As the article mentions, one researcher adds that one chief reason students who attend class to better than their peers who don’t is because they pick up hints from their professors about what material might be important to know for the tests. I can certainly testify to the truth behind that claim.

In retrospect, even though I used to listen in admiration when my father reminisced about how he and his buddies could miss class as much as they wanted and still pass their classes, I am grateful that I never had to go through that experience. Every class I have shown up for has benefited me as a lifelong learner.  As one professor interviewed in the article mentioned, “students are often surprised that they don’t do well when they don’t come to class”. At the end of the day, there really is nothing to be surprised about. As I have learned, class attendance, whether we like it or not, is very much essential to a truly successful academic career.

To read the full article on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website click on this link: Just Showing Up: Educators Focus on Attendance to Help Students Succeed

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