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Teaching Tip: Why Students Should NOT Skip Your OM Class

January 17, 2015

class attendanceSkipping class undetected for a game of ultimate Frisbee might become a thing of the past as more universities adopt mandatory-attendance policies and acquire high-tech trackers that snitch when students skip,” writes The Wall Street Journal (Jan.14, 2015). The moves reflect the rising financial consequence of skipping too many classes and, consequently, dropping out. More than 4 in 10 full-time college students fail to graduate in 6 years. Many are stuck with crippling student debt and no credentials to help them pay it back. In response, schools are under pressure from taxpayers and parents to increase retention and graduation rates.

“Attendance is the best known predictor of college grades, even more so than scores on standardized admissions tests,” says an Iowa State prof who studies the subject. The correlation is particularly high in science, engineering and math. And grades, in turn, seem linked to graduation rates.

At Villanova, student monitoring through ID cards has been in place in some form since 2007. At Harvard, lecture halls were secretly (and with some controversy) filmed to gauge attendance. Among lectures monitored, attendance averaged 60%, declining from 79% as the semester began to 43% as it ended. Attendance also fell more than 10 percentage points over an average week. Courses that incorporated attendance into the final grade averaged 87%, compared with 49% for those that didn’t.

As online interactions have grown, schools have realized they have a trove of new data to look at, such as how much a student is accessing the syllabus, taking part in online discussions with classmates and reading assigned material. MyOMLab can help with some of this tracking, benefiting both you and your OM students.


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