Professors stress the importance of attending class at the beginning of every semester. Many include an attendance policy on the syllabus:
From a literature course: “You’ll receive two free absences…the next two after that will cost you grade-wise, the fifth gives me the right to fail you.”
From a math course: “You are responsible for making up any work you may have missed by failing to attend class.”
From an anthropology course: “You will need to attend class, and study for the test to pass this course.”
However, it’s the quality of a student’s work that should determine a pass or fail grade.
“I do not think that a person should fail a class for missing classes,” junior English major Tabitha Bower said. “If they are able to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts being taught through the work they are handing-in and tests, they should pass.”
Some students can learn the curriculum and produce quality work without going to every class. These students should not be marked down for their ability to stay ahead of the curve. Sometimes, just knowing important due dates is enough for a student. The quality of work should trump the number of classes a student attends. Lingustics Professor Ian Clayton shares this viewpoint.
“(All professors) take attendance, but it doesn’t figure into my final calculations in a student’s grade,” Clayton said. “I’m interested in a student’s performance.”
Of course, every class functions a little bit differently. A fiction writing course emphasizes class participation with writing workshops, whereas a math course’s assignments and tests are based on static knowledge.
Clayton mentioned attending class can be crucial.
“In some courses, participation is probably going to be a much more significant part of student success,” Clayton said.
But a fiction writing student, for instance, could remedy absences by critiquing short stories via e-mail to provide feedback. Providing quality feedback is the point, regardless of the medium of communication.
Online classes are an option, however not all classes are offered online. For example, English 278 is the gateway class to upper-division courses for English majors and next semester no sections are offered online.
Students who demonstrate a strong grasp of the material regardless of how many classes they attend should receive a passing grade. Just because students aren’t in their seats doesn’t mean they can’t meet course objectives.