In response to year-in-year out feedback from students that they wished they had attended class more often (e.g.), I decided this year to try a more brutal approach to helping them help themselves. I take attendance at pop quizzes, and I do those at random times without warning. I plan to do a total of ten of them this semester. I give 100% for attendance if students are at seven; 0% if they are at fewer than seven. Attendance is worth 10%, so a whole degree grade is resting on this.
We’ve done eight quizzes so far, and 131 students – 68% of the class have got full marks for attendance. There are 38 students who are one quiz away, 12 who are two quizzes away, and 13 who have already blown 10% of their final grade.
Interesting dilemma now. At this point, what best incentivizes attendance for the rest of semester? I could do more than two more quizzes, but the more quizzes I run, the less incentive the poor attenders have to come to every remaining class. So I need to stick to just two more. That’ll hurt some, but that’s time management for you. They can’t say they weren’t warned (syllabus). However, I now realize my attendance algorithm no longer incentivizes the good attenders because they have it in the bag. Must fix that for next year (15 quizzes, must be at 11?). I know from experience that students only realize after the fact that they do better on tests by coming to class. And the material I cover between now and the end of the year will so be in Class Test 4 and the Final exam.
I remain amazed that Faculty have to motivate students to come to class. I would have thought paying for an education would be incentive enough.