Debate: Attendance-based grades are fair to students

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Pro
By Amanda Cox

At CSUN, many professors give a participation grade based on a students’ class attendance. Some people would like for you to believe this method of grading is unwarranted. But clearly, these professors are only setting students up for success and they should be able to grade based on attendance.

Students who attend class regularly are more successful than those who do not. By simply being in class, a student is more capable of learning and absorbing the information given. The purpose of college is to learn, study and become educated. A student cannot do any of these things without attending class regularly.

In the UK, a government public services website called Directgov suggests good attendance shows potential employers that you are reliable. The website also says, “Research suggests that children who attend school regularly could also be at less risk of getting involved in antisocial behavior or crime.”

Based on these two facts, it is clear that developing a habit of attending class early in life is extremely important to a college student today. It is becoming more difficult to find employment in today’s economy. Regularly attending class is going to help in finding a good and stable career.

Since many professors give a participation grade based on class attendance just being present is the easiest measure a student can take to ensure success in a class. Also, they often give a limited number of excused absences acknowledging that circumstances come up in students’ lives that require missing class. Professors do not give participation points to punish absentees but as a way to reward those students who regularly attend their class.

In a book published in 2006 by the Economic Policy Institute called “Rethinking High School Graduation Rates and Trends,” researchers Lawrence Mishel and Joydeep Roy explore the reasons behind some schools having extremely high graduation rates compared to those with low numbers of graduates.

One of the main trends observed was that high schools with high attendance rates and strict attendance policies were also the schools with high graduation rates. This cause and effect relationship can also be applied here at CSUN. The student who attends class regularly is more likely to graduate than the student who does not.

Missing classes is a waste of the money paid to the university. Professors do not get paid based on class attendance so the only person suffering when a student misses class is the student.

The cost of tuition has been rapidly increasing so a full-time student taking the 13 units the university provides with the standard tuition cost is paying approximately $35 per class if it meets once a week. Think of how many classes you have missed this semester. Were they worth $35 a pop?

There are so many things we as students would rather do than sit through that three-hour biology lab but the consequences of missing those classes outweigh the short term benefits every time. Professors who give grades based on attendance are trying to aid students by giving them an incentive to attend class. These professors care enough about their students to know that good attendance leads to success and they want students to succeed.

Con
By Zain Shammas

There is a common theme in college classrooms today of teachers causing unjust academic harm for absences. The practice of grading based on attendance is unfair and should be abolished.

One of the biggest problems is students are under the impression they will do well by just showing up to the lecture. But a student’s final grade should be reflective of their overall knowledge and understanding of the material, not their ability to show up to every single class.

I am currently enrolled in five classes at CSUN, three of which require attendance and at the highest, attendance amounts to 15 percent of the final grade. If a professor dedicates 15 percent of the final grade to attendance, a B student could fail for missing just a couple of classes.

An article published in 2007 in Bloomberg BusinessWeek called “Treating College Kids Like School Children,” suggests this kind of accountability is outdated and not necessary.
“Today’s students will increasingly be measured and rewarded by how they perform and what they create, not whether they keep a seat warm at some meeting they’d rather skip,” wrote senior writer Stephen Baker who covers technology for the magazine.

Having a mandatory attendance policy also creates a forced atmosphere. In 2000, the Atlantic Economic Journal published a report called “Should Attendance Be Mandatory?” and researchers found “a captive audience is not an ideal learning environment.” By being required to show up, students may resent a class they may find otherwise intriguing.

Professors who adhere to the attendance rule argue it increases motivation to attend class in order to not miss information or get points deducted. But for whatever reason a student does not attend class, he or she is completely aware they may miss out on vital information that can show up on tests.

One of the main goals of college is to learn to be self-motivated and responsible. Students may learn this lesson the hard way but it should be up to them to make up for their absences. Instead, students who have set out from their families and hometowns to find their own path to adulthood are being told what to do like children in elementary school.

The most prominent issue here is students may be punished significantly more for not attending class than for their actual academic performance.

Although there are reports that state consistent attendance leads to better grades, there is no definitive link between mandatory attendance and high scores.

According to “Class Attendance in College: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Relationship of Class Attendance with Grades and Student Characteristics,” a 2010 report by the American Educational Research Association, “attendance has strong relationships with both class grades and GPA,” however “mandatory attendance policies seem to a have a small positive impact on average grades.”

In fact, they do the opposite. Since missing class can negatively affect students’ overall test scores, the idea of further punishing the student by taking off points and possibly dropping whole letter grades is downright unfair.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ankur-Patel/2505963 Ankur Patel

    You both miss the point that grades are absolutely arbitrary in the end… if a professor wants to give you an A they will — and you will think you deserved the A. It also applies in the opposite. Have you ever tried to fight a grade?