Mandatory attendance in college has always been a highly debated subject.
Professors want students to attend all of their classes so they can teach them directly, but many students want to be given the freedom to decide which classes to attend. Due to the difficulty of regulating a school-wide attendance policy, most colleges and universities give professors the authority to set their own attendance rules.
Sam Artley, a senior studying social relations and policy at Michigan State University, said she does not agree with mandatory attendance policies except in the case of lab work because it is usually completed in class with very little work outside of the classroom.
Artley noted that many professors say regular attendance is necessary to do well in a course and agrees that attendance and course performance are positively correlated.
“That being said, there would be no need for mandatory attendance as students seeking high grades will quickly learn that they need to attend the course regularly,” she said. “Inflating grades with 10-20 percent of your score coming from attendance is a poor judgment of an individual’s competency in the course.”
Professor Kelli Marshall teaches media and film classes at DePaul University and does not implement a mandatory attendance policy. Instead, she gives her students the opportunity to earn participation points via weekly quizzes and discussion questions.
“Since most students want to earn their participation points, they generally come to class, even though attendance is not mandatory,” Marshall said.
This policy works well for Marshall and saves her a lot of time and hassle.
“It’s beneficial to me because I don’t have to worry about marking who’s there, who’s not, who’s late, who leaves early,” she said. “Additionally, I don’t have to haggle with students over any grades associated with ‘excused’ and ‘unexcused’ absences.”
While Marshall’s non-mandatory attendance policy makes her job easier, she’s...
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