The Research Digest, January 2015, Issue Number 43

The Research Digest highlights new research in learning and teaching. This month, we are highlighting recent work on attendance in the university classroom. This issue was developed in conjunction with January’s issue of Best Practices on Ideas to Improve Attendance. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or have any suggestions for us, please send an email to To access past issues of the Research Digest, visit the LTO website.

New research on attendance in the university classroom:

Lecture Attendance Rates at University and Related Factors
Journal of Further and Higher Education, 2012

Abstract: “There is a perception that university students have changed dramatically in their modes of learning in recent years, mainly due to their widespread use of the Internet as an information source, the change in student body due to the greater accessibility of third level education and changes in experience in second level education. Lectures, however, remain the central mode of traditional teaching and learning at most universities and thus attendance at lectures continues to be a subject of considerable importance. However, few studies report actual attendance levels in any comprehensive way. Herein, levels of lecture attendance in the colleges of Science in University College Dublin are documented from two probability-based surveys. The results of a questionnaire recording the attitudes of students towards a range of factors that potentially affect attendance are also presented. Factors that continue to influence attendance, that are in the control of the university, such as living on/off campus, the lecture schedule in the students’ timetable, day of the week and transport problems are revealed. Factors in students’ personal lives, such as engagement in part-time work, irrespective of purpose, are seen to be related to satisfaction with studies and lecture delivery. Suggestions for active measures to increase the level of lecture attendance, appropriate to the present day, are made.”

The Effect of a Monitoring Scheme on Tutorial Attendance and Assignment Submission
International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 2013

Abstract: “We report on the implementation of a monitoring scheme by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. The scheme was introduced in an attempt to increase the level and quality of students’ engagement with certain aspects of their undergraduate course. It is well documented that students with higher levels of appropriate engagement with mathematics do better, on average, than students with similar mathematical backgrounds who do not engage. In this paper we focus specifically on the monitoring of students’ tutorial attendance and their rates of assignment submission. We present an overview of the tutorial and assignment system, describe the monitoring scheme in detail, and discuss the outcome of the data analysis. In particular we will report on the positive effects that this scheme had on attendance and submission rates.”

Motivating Attendance in a First-Year Mathematics Course Using “House Cash”
Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 2011

Abstract: “Poor class attendance is detrimental to student success. This is especially true in entry-level college mathematics courses, where habitual non-attendance can have lasting effects that greatly limit a student’s options for continued academic success. The purpose of this study was to design an attendance incentive and to evaluate its impact on student retention and performance in a freshman precalculus-trigonometry course. The attendance incentive, which the authors called “House Cash,” was designed to minimize the grade inflation that is often associated with extrinsic rewards and also to eliminate the instructor’s burden of maintaining daily course attendance records. Using a purposive sample of 131 participants, they found that both retention and performance measures in the House Cash course sections were higher than historical averages for the course.”

Attendance Policies, Student Attendance, and Instructor Verbal Aggressiveness
Journal of Education for Business, 2012

Abstract: “The authors utilized an experimental design across six sections of a managerial communications course (N = 173) to test the impact of instructor verbal aggressiveness and class attendance policies on student class attendance. The experimental group received a policy based on the principle of social proof (R. B. Cialdini, 2001), which indicated that for similar students, class attendance was linked to high academic performance. Students also assessed their instructor’s level of verbal aggressiveness (D. A. Infante, 1979). Results suggest that instructor verbal aggressiveness did not influence class attendance. However, social proof did positively influence class attendance rates under certain circumstances. The authors discuss the study implications.”

Intervening Early: Attendance and Performance Monitoring as a Trigger for First Year Support in the Biosciences
Bioscience Education, 2012

Abstract: “A centralised system monitoring attendance and performance among first year students in Biomedical Sciences has been established at Newcastle University. Early signs of absence and poor performance trigger immediate intervention by academic staff, with the aim of providing support for students at risk of failure or withdrawal. Difficulties associated with monitoring attendance in large lecture classes are avoided by monitoring attendance only at “high stakes” classes, namely practicals and seminars. Level of attendance at non-lecture classes was a predictor of academic achievement and the early intervention strategy was associated with improvements in attendance. Student perceptions of attendance monitoring were evaluated and found to be positive. Meeting with absent and underperforming students at the earliest possible opportunity has proved an effective way of promoting dialogue between staff and students who are experiencing difficulties.”

Relations between Faculty Use of Online Academic Resources and Student Class Attendance
Computers & Education, 2012

Abstract: “We investigated connections between faculty use of online resources and student class attendance. Of particular interest was whether online submission of course assignments is detrimental to attendance. Students and faculty at a small, liberal arts college completed surveys about student attendance patterns, student reasons for non-attendance, varieties of online resources used by faculty, and perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of online resources. Almost one third (31%) of students indicated they were less likely to attend class if allowed to submit assignments online. In contrast, most faculty (94%) did not perceive online assignment submission as a threat to attendance, and no significant difference in reported absence rate was found between faculty who used this option and those who did not. Moreover, a higher number of course materials provided online by faculty was associated with fewer absences. Implications for training of faculty in use of electronic resources and recommendations for additional research on this topic are discussed.”

Impact of Class Lecture Webcasting on Attendance and Learning
Educational Technology Research and Development, 2010

Abstract: “The present study investigated the impact of class lecture webcasts on students’ attendance and learning. The research design employed four data collection methods in two class sections–one with webcast access and another without–of the same course taught by the same instructors. Results indicated the following four major findings. (1) The availability of webcasts negatively impacted student attendance but the availability of other online resources such as PowerPoint slides had a greater negative impact on attendance. (2) Webcast access appeared to nullify the negative effects absenteeism had on student performance. (3) For most performance measures based on lecture content, more webcast viewing was associated with higher performance. (4) Most students in the webcast section reported positive learning experiences and benefits from using webcasts, even though a majority also reported using webcasts for missing a class. In summary, these results collectively suggest that webcasts could have positive effects on students’ learning experiences and performance, even if class attendance does decline.”

Studying Absenteeism in Principles of Macroeconomics: Do Attendance Policies Make a Difference?
Journal of Economic Education, 2012

Abstract: “The primary objective of this article is to see if and how attendance policy influences class attendance in undergraduate-level principles of macroeconomics classes. The second objective, which is related to the first, is to examine whether the nature of the attendance policy matters in terms of its impact on class attendance behavior. The results provide strong support that having an explicit attendance policy reduces absenteeism. The results relating to the nature of the attendance policy point to the greater effectiveness of a policy that punishes students for missing class rather than one that rewards students for good attendance.”

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One Response to The Research Digest, January 2015, Issue Number 43

  1. Shirley Christo says:

    Thanks for this excellent collection of articles on attendance. Most appreciated.
    I am in long time position of mandatory attendance for my 22 clinical 3rd yr students and therefore have the physical presence but they lack the enthusiasm/ motivation of involvement for their professional development so am working on this goal. If you have any further info related … it would be most appreciated.
    Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing

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