As we enter the home-stretch of the semester and finish up final assignments for our courses, we must address attendance policies present in class.
Individual professors decide the attendance policy for their courses. Some professors integrate attendance into a point system, which benefits students who attend and penalize others who do not attend.
There are professors who penalize students who miss class per absence up until they fail the course.
However, there are very a few professors who do not require attendance at all, and a student’s grade is decided entirely from the work they produce and the knowledge they demonstrate.
Why do attendance policies differ? Some professors may use attendance policies to penalize students who do not show up while others might use it to help weight grades in order to help students pass their classes. Still, should students be rewarded for filling a seat for 50 or 90 minutes?
Hypothetically, why should one student who performs poorly on examinations but attends a class every day pass a class, a student who misses five classes but aces every test be flunked for the semester?
If a student does a good job without needing to attend class, should he or she not be rewarded for the work outside the class?
Penalizing proficiency seems counter-intuitive to the purpose of education: to encourage achievement.
Many students need to work one or two jobs to be able to pay for college or even pay for rent and food. It may be necessary for them to miss class to pick up an extra shift to be able to pay for dinner or cover the costs of already expensive textbooks.
At the end of the day, enrolling at a university is a business transaction. Students pay their professors for instruction.
Once students pay the professor, their part of the deal is done. If they want to miss class, they should not be penalized within the system for doing so.
When a real-world employee calls off work, they are recognizing they are giving up pay for that day. The student is doing the same by not attending class.
On the flip side of the coin, when a professor cancels class, there are little to no repercussions. Students are missing out on content they already paid for upfront.
On top of that, when students attend the class they do not always receive the product they paid for. Some professors show up late or let class out early.
Others lecture off a slideshows — something that could just as easily be learned at home.
The students are paying the professor; there should be more accountability for professors to meet the expectations they laid out when students have already paid to be a part of their class.
The attendance policy would be better if it was considered to be a school-wide policy, applied equally in every class.
Additionally, students must be incentivized to attend class based on the significance of information missed during class, not based on arbitrarily failing the course if they do not show up enough.