It is clear from the SRTEs (student questionnaires) that many students are immensely annoyed that so many of their classmates skip class. I find it irritating too, though I guess for different reasons: we are not allowed more students than there are seats in the classroom so non-attenders exclude potentially more motivated students. At the beginning of semester, I did my best to get rid of the half-hearted. In response, seven students left, allowing seven more to join. But there was still a lot of non-attendance:
I do not know how this compares with other classes on campus (I think the university should publish this sort of data – it would be useful for Faculty, and fee-paying parents….). On purely financial grounds, I remain staggered that students chose not to come to class. If students don’t want to interact with Professors they should go somewhere cheaper.
Should I do more about forcing the issue? As things stand now, I give 16% for attendance, made up of a presence at four or more pop quizzes (I did 8 quizzes, without warning; that’s where the data points above come from). Next year I might raise that requirement to six or more out of eight and see what happens. But I need to drop the 16% to 10%. That 16% enabled two students to pass who participated miserably on the blog. I don’t think I need to give too many marks for attendance: poor attendance really shows in the tests and exams (worth 40%). And why should we reward people with marks for just showing up?
Ultimately, it is not even clear to me that we should be forcing students to come to class. Sure it’s best for them. But they are now adults. Life will not be looking out for slackers. Why should we?