Tim Kral Faculty photoTim Kral, February 2018 Wally Cordes Chair and Professor of Biological Sciences, led a discussion on “Attendance: Should it be Mandatory? Should we Care?” In this discussion Dr. Kral presented his experience with mandating attendance for lower level courses using student response systems. Dr. Kral’s goal was to see if mandating attendance would increase student attendance, grades, and graduation rates. He tested it in two large enrollment courses.

In his course Dr. Kral found that while just mandating attendance did increase the rate at which students came to class, it did not make a noticeable increase grades.  This led us to the question: why? During the open discussion topics ranged from course and departmental policy to motivation for mandating attendance to what sort of documentation should and could be required for excusing absences. Questions such as ‘do we want students in class who do not want to be there?’ and ‘how important is it for students to attend class in order to be a member of a community of learners?’ and ‘what methods can we use to ensure academic integrity and honesty in large classes?’

One issue that came up and led to a fruitful discussion was the difference between attendance and participation.  Is attendance really enough?  Should we also have methods of participation and in class work that reinforces information in order to make attendance more than just showing up?  How do we incorporate this method?  Do we reward or penalize?

For more information on Dr. Kral’s investigation, the presentation can be downloaded and viewed as a PDF: Tim Kral Wally Cordes Chair Presentation – Attendance 2018

or you can email him at tkral@uark.edu

This content was developed from a presentation by Tim Kral which was sponsored by the The Wally Cordes Teaching and Faculty Support Center (TFSC) at the University of Arkansas.