Everyone has experienced that extremely conflicting moment where you can’t get out of bed, or just don’t want to get out of bed, but you have an important class coming up… so what do you do? While for some of us the answer is simple, to others this decision is so hard to make. I think we all know the answer to this question but I wanted to see just how much of a toll this can take on your grade. My hypothesis is that it’s relative. If you skip class but put in the work outside of class to make up for what you missed, then you should be fine. But, if you skip a class where the material taught you can’t easily teach yourself or find in a textbook, then you’re screwed (a.k.a SC 200). So, can skipping class affect your school performance?
To understand the extent to which missing class can affect your grades, I searched for an experiment that tested this question. That is how I stumbled across an experiment in which three large economic classes were told that attendance was not mandatory until the day of their midterm exam and that after the midterm, the students that scored below the class’ average grade would have to attend class (see x). In addition, many third variables were measured, such as number of tutoring sessions attended, homework grades, gender, grade level, and more. (x)
In this study done on these courses, the average rate of attendance before the midterm exams was 78% (see x). The article claims that the attendance varied according to whether it was recorded before or after midterms (see x). As what can be observed from the graph, before midterms, 12% of students had a rate of attendance that was less than 50% and 35% had a rate of at least 90% (see x). As you can predict, the students that attended class more did better on their exams (see x). The study also concluded that students forced to attend class after taking the midterm significantly improved their grades (as can be seen on the second graph). Hence, this led to the idea that making attendance mandatory in a class can help students ensure that they do better on tests since they are forced to learn the class material. It only makes sense that student’s grades improved after the attendance became mandatory as those that did well before the midterm most likely continued to do well, and those that didn’t had room to do better. (x)
A correlation between attendance and class performance was found as a result of this experiment. There is no actual mechanism to say that causation equals correlation but, since the study was done on such a large group of people, it is safe to say that it is likely this conclusion is true. Furthermore, with a meta-analysis that show the same results as this study, then we would be able to decrease the possibility of chance being the case and the possibility that this might be a false positive.
So, what can you take home from this study? Next time you’re not feeling like getting out of bed for an important class, take a deep breath, think of the things you might miss by not going and the tuition money you’re wasting, and get up. The hardest part is always getting up. Going back to my hypothesis, while I still think this concept is relative, you can’t always guarantee that you will be able to teach yourself the material as well as your professor can, especially after knowing the results of this experiment, it is not worth the risk. Get up and go. You’ll be okay.