This is our third episode, and our topic is attendance. We started with a CNN news story with the title of Students with good attendance can win a new car,
A 16-year-old in Wyoming won a $28,000 car for good attendance, but her motivation was just not to fall behind in school. However, even naysayers conceded that such prizes keep attendance in the forefront of everyone's attention.
Kevin's classes are in computer labs, and in the first 5 minutes of his classes, he opens up a short quiz for students to take. This quiz not only checks homework, it also helps Kevin take attendance, while motivating students to show up on time for the class. (The quiz is online, but is only open for a short time, so Kevin is confident that the system is not being thwarted by students who hop online from home.)
We talked about how many classes students were allowed to miss. Robert allows students to miss 3 out of 13 classes, and conceded that these 3 represent unexcused absences; if a student has verifiable excuses for additional absences, they were still allowed to pass the course.
We raised the question of what constitutes attendance. Kevin drew a distinction between physical presence and active participation, citing the root of attendance, which requires students to actually attend to the content of the lesson. Robert withholds an attendance credit if students are over 30 minutes late for a 90-minute lesson. Also, we talked a little bit about rewarding participation, and this seems to be a topic worth returning to in more concrete detail in the future.
We also followed a full disclosure policy by admitting to our own attitudes towards attendance in our own university days.