“Attendance is a better predictor of class grades than any other known predictor (including
HSGPA, SAT scores, and study habits) suggesting that the benefits of better attendance
in college classes are likely to be substantial.”
(Crede, Roch & Kieszczynka, 2010, p.286)
Best practices research on effective interventions for at-risk students recommends that institutions focus on intervening with students “early and often” (Kuh et al, 2006). Kuh and others (2006) note “Advisors and academic support program personnel do some of their most important work by paying attention to student class attendance patterns, drop and add information, early semester and midterm grades, and preregistration information” (Kuh et al, 2006, p.94). In addition, they stress “prompt and frequently feedback” to students about their progress towards academic goals and meeting the institution’s expectations (Kuh et al., 2006).
Flight Path is NOT a mandatory attendance policy: it does not require faculty to keep regular attendance records, or incorporate attendance into the course requirements. Instead it should be characterized as a type of formative assessment, much like midterm grades, to share information with other student services professionals early in the student’s classroom experience to determine if students are progressing well or in need of an intervention.
While there may be some debate on whether it is the role of college professors to track student attendance, there is a much clearer message on the importance of class attendance in college particularly for freshmen. In a meta-analysis reviewing over 60 articles dating from 1927 to 2009, Crede and others (2010) discovered attendance was more predictive of academic performance that many other commonly referenced variables such as test scores and high school GPA. Class attendance was found to have a strong relationship with academic performance (i.e. better attendance is correlated to better course grades) separately from the relationship between student characteristics and academic performance in college (Crede et al., 2010). More succinctly, “results do not suggest that students with high class attendance are simply those with dramatically higher levels of motivation or conscientiousness” (Crede et al., 2010, p. 285).
This correlation can be particularly profound during the first year. Moore (2006) investigated attendance in an introductory Biology course with high enrollment (n=263) and a DFW rate (the percentage of students who withdraw or earn a D or F). As with previous studies, high rates of attendance were correlated with better course grades as well as the student’s academic preparation (Moore, 2006). Freshmen who enter with better preparation are predisposed to having better attendance habits. Moore (2006) recommends tracking attendance and using early interventions, especially with at-risk students, to prevent chronic absenteeism as well as to illustrate “a realistic picture of what it will take for them to pass their courses and graduate from college” (p.119).