26 April, 2023
Have you dreaded attending class? I am sure that the answer to that question for 99% of people reading this is a resounding, YES. Yet, attending classes is very important for your development, regardless of at which stage in your education you are. Student attendance helps with better academic performance, building habits, preventing missed opportunities, creating a sense of community in the classroom and in preparing students for future success. In this blog post I will go over the importance of student attendance, talk about my personal experience as a teaching assistant and go over the best method for attendance tracking. However, if you are still not convinced about the importance of student attendance, stick to the end of the blog, trust me.
Why is student attendance important?
Student attendance is important for a variety of reasons. Firstly, a study published in the International Journal of Psychological Studies summarized the results of 62 studies that studied the relationship between class attendance and academic performance with over 21000 students. The study found that student attendance was the single strongest predictor of academic performance in university. Another study carried out with psychology students found the same result.
So, student attendance is related to better academic performance. Are there other positive benefits of attending class? Absolutely. Consistent attendance helps to create the habit of showing up in students. Attending class, even when you don’t feel like it, is a good habit to have as it creates discipline. Discipline is something that you will need in all aspects of your life, from your career, to your relationships and even to remain a healthy individual.
Moreover, attending class can help to improve your sense of belonging in your school or university. It gives you more opportunities to interact and build relationships with other students and teachers. This is something that I personally found to be quite important, especially at university. At university you are often not forced to go to class as attendance is not mandatory, especially in lectures. Yet, I have found that by attending class I have been more able to make friends and to build valuable relationships with my fellow peers, helping to increase my sense of belonging at university.
Additionally, class attendance can help to prevent missed opportunities. At school, opportunities consist of, for example, information about university scholarships that you can apply for. At university, these can consist of information about how to prepare for examinations or getting additional points in the class through participation. Not attending class can mean that you do not receive this information and miss these opportunities.
Finally, this all goes to say that student attendance to class can prepare students for future success. By improving academic performance, building discipline, helping to create relationships with your peers and preventing missed opportunities, class attendance can definitely help to set you up for future success.
As a teaching assistant, what can I tell you about the importance of student attendance?
I worked as a teaching assistant for two years at Erasmus University. During this time, I taught around ten different courses, teaching classes of 15 to 30 students. Each course was different of course, yet I believe that in all courses, attending class was valuable.
Firstly, as a teacher I often found that I enjoyed teaching more when more people attended class. Having more people present in class often meant that more people participated, making the class more interactive and fun to teach. Moreover, for courses in which attendance was not mandatory, I took higher student attendance as a sign that students were actually enjoying the class. This strongly motivated me as it showed that my work was being appreciated which often led me to do an even better job. Thus, attending class can act as a way to show support for the work your teacher is putting in, making his work more enjoyable, often leading to them doing an even better job.
Moreover, I often saw that attending class led to better performance in the course. I have several explanations for this. Firstly, by attending class students could ask questions and answer any doubts they may have about the course content. Secondly, I often went over exam-style questions in the classes. By attending, students didn’t miss any explanations about how to answer these questions, which strongly improved their performance in exams. Lastly, at university we were often pushed to teach in a way that promoted student participation. Thus, students are involved in the process of answering questions. By participating, students understood better HOW to answer questions, rather than WHAT the answers to the questions are. This was a very valuable skill to have in exams.
Finally, the last reason class attendance is important is because it gives you an opportunity to socialize with your classmates. Especially at university, a lot of social events and gatherings are planned during class, often in the break. I personally often saw this happening during my time as a teacher. Thus, attending class can also help your social life, ensuring that you are able to build valuable relationships.
What is the best way to track student attendance?
We have seen that student attendance is important. Yet to be able to foment student attendance it is important to track it in a reliable and efficient manner. This is important to impose attendance policies (e.g. minimum attendance requirements) and to promote student attendance.
In a previous blog post we have gone over the different ways to track student attendance, going over their advantages and disadvantages. Yet, after extensively analyzing this topic, we are confident that the best way to track student attendance is Attendance Radar.
Attendance Radar is a mobile application for tracking student attendance, which is available for free. The app utilizes a secure Bluetooth signal to register attendance. To begin, teachers can set up a course within the app and students can join by selecting the appropriate signal emitted by the teacher’s app. During each class, the teacher can activate a signal which students can click on their app to mark themselves as present. The app then generates an attendance list which teachers can use to log attendance into their system. If students do not have a phone or have forgotten theirs, they can request the teacher to manually register their attendance. Furthermore, we are currently developing a fully integrated version of the app that will automatically register attendance in the university or school’s system. This feature offers a fast and reliable method for universities and schools to manage attendance.
Still not convinced…
If after all of this you still don’t agree with the importance of student attendance. Then that is okay, we understand that attending class is a personal decision, especially when it is not mandatory. You have every right to not want to attend, yet it is important to note that this can have consequences. If you do not want to attend class, then make sure to read our Guide on How to Skip Class.