When students look at their class grades or a class syllabus, they see grades for tests, quizzes, projects and more. Among those, however, is one grade that should not be there: attendance.
Students go to a university to obtain a degree. This requires knowledge of the course material. Grades shouldn’t hinge on whether students show up for class every day.
Grading attendance only shows that students are punctual and can keep a schedule, not whether they grasped the concepts and lessons taught in the class.
Here at UW-Whitewater, class attendance is irrelevant and should not be graded.
Time is a commodity for students. Projects, tests, papers and other assignments can quickly fill up students’ schedules, along with extracurricular activities and jobs.
Sometimes students’ schedules are so full they are forced to make a choice: go to class or skip and study instead. For most students, the choice is not an easy one.
Students are paying to be here. They are accumulating debt in order to get their education. It should be up to them whether they attend their classes. Students are aware of the consequences.
Concerns should focus instead on whether students understand the course material. Students’ grades will already suffer if they miss the class and do nothing to keep up outside of class.
Instead of spending a certain percentage of the overall class grade on attendance, more emphasis can be put on homework, quizzes and tests.
Beyond college, students are not always going to make appointments, and they’ve got to make up for those missed appointments. This should be our concern in the college classroom as well.
Students are here preparing for the professional world. They should be expected to take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
Allowing students to choose to attend class rather than forcing them to or risk receiving a lower grade teaches them self-motivation and self-reliance.
At this point, students should know if they can keep up with course material without attending class. The responsibility of learning the material rests on students’ shoulders, and if they choose not to show up to class, it is their own loss.
Teachers can still take attendance for statistical purposes but should not for the purpose of grading.
An alternative to grading attendance every class session can be in-class quizzes. To ensure that students are showing up to class and understanding the subject, professors can issue quizzes every class period.
All students are required to take the semester evaluation. If students don’t show up for class, how can they answer the evaluation honestly?
This ties into taking attendance but not grading it. After a certain number of classes are missed, students should no longer be allowed to evaluate the class or professor when the semester ends.
If, however, students do not show up for class but keep in contact with the professor outside of class via office visits or email, the professor should consider counting emails and office visits as a form of attendance.
Students are here to learn. They pay to be at UW-Whitewater because they want to be here. If students choose not to attend class, it should not be the responsibility of the university to punish them.
The faculty of UW-Whitewater are not babysitters. There are numerous alternatives to grading attendance to ensure students are participating in class.
Students’ understanding of the class content is what should matter, not their attendance.