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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

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Opinion: Students shouldn’t fail over attendance

Graded+attendance+illustration
Graded attendance illustration

College allows students to learn the essence of responsibility by teaching them how to manage their time while dealing with busy schedules wisely.
Professors shouldn’t dictate how students manage their time and daily schedules by forcing them to attend class with threats of a lowered or failing grade.
Unlike in primary and secondary education across the U.S., where daily attendance is mandatory by state law, colleges set their regulations and policies regarding attendance, which vary as a result.
At Texas State, when it comes to class attendance, the university claims its policy is to require regular attendance in all classes but recognizes that policies will differ among classes.
While Texas State does not make attendance mandatory, it allows its professors to require it for their classes if they choose to do so. Several Texas State professors enforce mandatory attendance and factor it into students’ overall grades, validating it as a participation grade when it is nothing more than a scare tactic to ensure the classroom is at total capacity during their lectures.
Jon Marc Smith, an English and film professor at Texas State, prefers a full classroom during his lectures because of the interactions with students.
“The way that I teach is I want students to ask questions and make comments, and the more people that are in class, the more questions and comments you have,” Smith said.
Forcing students to attend classes means they may physically show up, but it doesn’t mean they will mentally show up.
Students who do not want to be in class but attend anyway, out of fear of receiving a failing grade, are more likely to be on their phones or laptops during the entire lecture instead of paying attention to it. So requiring students to attend class doesn’t require them to learn anything from the lecture.
Data from a research study conducted at Saint Louis University found that students who only listen to the first 15 minutes of a lecture only retained approximately 41% of the material. Students who attended for 30 minutes had 25%.
A mandatory attendance policy prioritizes students’ presence in the classroom over their desire to learn and engage with the lecture material.
Students who genuinely want to be in a class to learn the material will be in attendance, while the ones who don’t will not. This is why professors should allow students to decide what they feel is best for themselves instead of deducting points or failing them.
Another area for improvement with mandatory attendance is that it penalizes students who can achieve passing grades without going to class. Not all students learn and process information the same way.
Students may need to attend every class to understand the course material completely. In contrast, others may be able to understand it even if they miss some or the majority of courses throughout the semester.
Sometimes students need help retaining the information being taught due to professors’ teaching style and feel they can learn the course material on their own time without having to go to class.
Still, mandatory attendance policies force all students to attend every class, even if students can get a passing grade without attending regularly.
In a USA Today article, college students spoke about why they choose to attend or skip classes. Reasons for not attending class included believing the lecture will be counterproductive or that the material can be learned by simply reading the textbook.
Students also have other obligations in their lives, most commonly work, which is particularly true for students who come from low-income households. According to a CNBC article, 59% of low-income students work 15 hours or more.
An article in a series titled “My College Dream” by CNBC highlights how some professors are unsympathetic to students having to miss class to work a high number of hours to make ends meet and, as a result, have their grades negatively impacted.
Professors should encourage students to attend every or as many classes as possible as it will significantly increase their chances of receiving a better grade but should go no further than that and allow students to make the decision themselves.
According to Economics-finance.org, a student who missed class was 9% to 14% more likely to answer a question on a test incorrectly.
Universities, professors and anyone else in favor of mandatory attendance in college will argue that students should attend every class since they and their families are shelling out thousands of dollars for them.
However, universities receive the money regardless of students’ attendance and if they pass or fail their classes. Therefore, tuition is owed for students to have the opportunity to attend class, but there is no rule denying students the option to skip class. Since universities receive the money no matter what a student chooses, it should be acceptable to them if they decide to attend class regularly or not.
– David Cuevas is a journalism junior
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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