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Students should not fail for missing class: Quality of work more important than quantity of classes attended

At the beginning of every semester, in every class, students receive a syllabus describing expectations for the class and grade breakdowns.


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.

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11 Comments on Students should not fail for missing class: Quality of work more important than quantity of classes attended

  1. The fact that "quantity" is spelled wrong is extremely ironic.

    • bgklhadsigblodfhgu // Nov 17, 2011 at 11:57 am //

      How so?

      • It was spelled "quanity" this morning when they first posted it online. Check the print edition and you'll see.

        The fact that this person is stating that going to class is not necessary to learning is ironic merely because of the fact that they apparently can't even spell the word quantity correctly. Either that, or the copy editor needs to show up to a few more classes. 😉

        We all make mistakes. My comments are all in good humor.

        • erga nuig9a3u4 // Nov 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm //

          you're dumb… it's "quantity" heck, one would think you'd realize 'quanity' wasn't right when it's UNDERLINED IN RED!!!!!!!!! while typing in the comment box before posting… that means you're dumb, retry.

  2. The attendance policy really is dependent on the course. If you are taking a math course and there is required attendance to sit in a computer lab, then I can understand how one can do that work at home. That being said, if the class is physics and the information is crucial to understanding concepts not elaborated in the book, then skipping class is ridiculous. I guess this is why we are college students who have to use our brains to decided what is better for our education.

  3. Showing up is an essential life skill. Seems strange to have to write that down. Absenteeism is a serious problem in the work environment and you will be fired for excessive absences. Self discipline is as important as the result, if not more so. Better to learn that lesson now when the only thing on the line is a grade.

  4. When a student takes a course they are expected to be an active member within that course- asking questions, furthering discussions, helping other students, and challenging both the teacher and their fellow students– this is quality work. It is misguided to assume that being able to answer questions for a test or craft writing geared towards a teacher cover all learning outcomes. The real learning of being an active member in society– having the ability to listen, question and discuss– happens in the classroom.

  5. I think that mandated attendance is a violation of my right to privacy as a student. I have a variety of medical problems, most of which are fairly personal, that make attending a full schedule of classes (on top of my job) very difficult. While I see the need to inform my employer of these things so that they can work with me, I do not care for constantly needing to tell a group of strangers (up to 6 of them every semester) something incredibly personal about me so that they do not fail me. Furthermore, because of my medical problems I have incredibly high insurance rates. The most affordable insurance I can get is $250 a mo. and has a $35 co-pay. BSU forces me to have the insurance to attend, but it is so expensive that I can't afford the co-pay, and thus cannot afford to see a doctor even though I am insured. These professors that mandate attendance usually require doctors notes every time I miss class, even if I have told them about my conditions previously. This puts me in the position of needing to shell out $35 just so they don't fail me. With all my other expenses that means I either go a week without food or I fail my class.
    I'm perfectly able to keep up with the course, and even get straight As, without attending the lectures. The point of the grade is to acknowledge that I am proficient in the material, not that I'm a "good little worker bee". I find the professors who dangle my grade over my head like that to be incredibly unfair. When they do such a thing, that ignores the fact that I learned the material, the course ceases to be about learning at all.

  6. Noseascomoelche // Nov 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm //

    When one is paying for education one should be able to choose whether or not it is worth one's time to be in class or not. A lot of time is wasted in class, a lot of time is wasted driving to and from class. General Ed classes are a huge waste of time.

  7. aconcernedstudent // Dec 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm //

    I feel amanda and noseascomoelche have hit the nail on the head. If you pay for the class then you have every right to miss it. "The point of the grade is to acknowledge that I am proficient in the material" << and that is exactly how I feel.

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