I have been curious about the phenomenon of students who skip class or find out the number of allowed absences and plan (from the beginning of the semester) when and how they are going to use those days recreationally. When I think of the reasons that I can remember missing class, I think of a recent time that I missed class for my honeymoon and a time that I missed class because of illness that would not have been able to be managed in a classroom. Some schools impose attendance policies to ensure that students attend class regularly.
I do not know the statistics of how attendance policies impact the number of class absences per student, nor do I know the resulting impact on student grades in comparison to classes that do not have attendance policies. A 2018 article by Dey indicates that student class attendance does indeed impact test scores, and that certain subgroups of students may benefit more from class attendance than others. The idea that some students may be more impacted by attending class than others had not previously occurred to me.
Of course, there are obvious natural benefits to class attendance, such as being present for information presented in class. This would explain the connection between class attendance and increased test scores. The fact that some students benefit more than others from attending class also makes logical sense considering that some students may be more in need of the information presented in class than others who may have already been exposed to the information elsewhere or have a stronger background in the topic being covered. I would also think that the benefits of attending class regularly would be sufficient motivation for students to attend class even without an attendance policy that requires students to be at the majority of the class sessions. If a student has signed up for a class, the desire to have the best opportunity to learn the information presented (or at the very least have the best chance at a favorable grade in the class) seems to be sufficient motivation to attend the class as often as possible. Unfortunately, this does not seem to prove true in actuality. Overall, I am in favor of students attending class, though I am also still somewhat skeptical about class attendance requirements. I would be very interested to hear others’ opinions on this topic.
Dey, I. (2018). Class attendance and academic performance: A subgroup analysis. International Review of Economics Education, 28, 29-40.