FaceOff: Professors should aim to engage, not depend on attendance policies


Kelly Salinas/Hilltop Views

Professors should keep a student’s interest by conducting interesting lectures and discussions. There is no direct correlation between mandatory attendance and higher grades according to a study conducted by the University of Central Florida.

With this semester coming to the halfway mark, it’s important to talk about the struggles of dealing with a longer semester. The biggest struggle for most, myself included, is attendance. Professors in every academic study at this school have a tendency to penalize their students for having unexcused absences. Why do professors do this to us?

The best classes I’ve ever had have always been the ones where attendance is not mandatory. Because of this, I believe all classes, with the exception of electives like music, should not require attendance.  

Think about it from the perspective of the student. Going to class should help you learn something that will be on a future exam or essay. However, this is often not the case. If a professor lectures about the exact same material as what is in the textbook, then what’s the point?

I’ve had classes in the past where the exam was a multiple choice test based entirely on terms from the textbook. Once I realized this, it made going to class feel like a complete waste of time. However, missing more than three classes would result in my grade dropping a full letter.  

From the perspective of a professor, wouldn’t you want students to come to your class simply because they want to? I would much rather have students come watch me give a lecture because they want to, not because I am forcing them to.

Professors should be self-aware enough to understand that student life is not always well organized and sometimes we have to miss class because of unique circumstances that we’d rather not explain.

Professors should also be interactive enough that students have intrinsic motivation to attend class. If students don’t go to your class, it’s not always because they’re lazy. It’s because you are not engaging them. Students will come to class if the exams are based more on lectures rather than textbooks and if they don’t, they will learn quickly from suffering the consequences.

If you’re a professor and students can get an A on your exams without attending class, then you’re doing something wrong. Textbooks should never be the only frame of knowledge for a class and professors should understand this.

Another issue with this policy is that we as students pay a lot of money to go to this school. I should have the freedom to attend class when I want because I’m the customer in this situation. Since I’m supporting this school with my time and money, I should have the freedom to decide when I want to waste my time being unproductive.

As a student, I’m trying to kindly express my severe distaste for attendance. By making attendance optional for students, professors are helping students become more responsible for themselves by forcing them to make difficult choices. We are having to be adults for the first time in our lives. Give us some autonomy and let us struggle. This campus has so many resources for students who are struggling. Let us figure it out for ourselves.