Does attendance serve a purpose?

Jason Adams, Courier Staff

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I realize that this is a common opinion among many students and is a sore spot at the beginning of most semesters, but not much has actually been done on the subject. Grading attendance is a common, yet useless and counterproductive practice that is still found in many classes.

Understand that I am not talking about classes where participation is a key part of the class such as kinesiology or an art class. If you are never participating in basketball or are always forgetting your art supplies, then it makes sense that your grade is affected. For most classes though, grading attendance and participation is not necessary.

Attendance policies are commonly found in lecture classes where students read off a PowerPoint. The long held belief is that students who go to class do better in that class. That makes complete sense and I’m not disagreeing with that statement at all. Based on that logic, students who don’t show up to class will do worse on assignments and assessments which is fair. If you don’t learn the material you won’t be able to demonstrate your knowledge of it. The issue is that those students who have already been docked on the assignments and assessments are also being docked even more on their attendance grades, this is called double jeopardy. There is no reason students should be punished twice for essentially the same reason.

The student is docked on their test and on attendance grade for not showing up to class? That doesn’t

seem fair. Then there’s the students who don’t show up to class half the time, only show up for quizzes and tests and still manage to get an A. Once the attendance grade goes in this student who earned an A on all of their assignments ends up with a B in the class. Someone please explain to me how that makes sense. The student is able to earn all A’s on their assignments but is docked for not attending classes they apparently didn’t really need to go to. They either understood the material or the class just wasn’t that difficult. That shouldn’t be counted against the student. All attendance grades do is hurt students grades and GPAs. If prospective students see that students at an institution are being knocked down for reasons besides academic ability, they’re not going to want to attend that institution. Aren’t your grades supposed to reflect your knowledge on the material? I don’t quite understanding how sitting in a chair demonstrates understanding of the material. I’m just discussing academic discrepancies with attendance grades. I’m not even going into the medical reasons why attendance policies are counterproductive.

As I said earlier, many students share this sentiment. In fact last spring Western’s Student Government Association overwhelmingly passed a bill that stated graded participation or attendance doesn’t serve a purpose in demonstrating knowledge. Unfortunately the bill never made it to school policy. Still, it is clear to students that these policies are counterproductive, so why do we still have them?

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