Whether it is psychology, history or math, a student’s success in one class is just as critical as it is in any other class.
Dr. Nancy Shankle, chair of the Department of English, said, “We find a correlation between class attendance and success in a course.”
Therefore, students present for classes on a consistent basis tend to receive higher grades than those who choose not to attend. ACU encourages students to attend class by enforcing an attendance policy. Since 1984, faculty members have been allowed to establish their own individual attendance policies, subject to review by their department chairs and/or deans.
Tom Winter, Vice Provost, said, “The 20 percent guideline has been common throughout the 25 years I’ve been at ACU.”
He used this guideline, where students cannot miss more than 20 percent of the scheduled class sessions, in his first syllabi, as a parameter for passing his course. This example is only one of the many varying attendance policies in effect at ACU. Some faculty members strictly enforce policies, allowing only two absences a semester, while others count a lack of attendance slightly against a student’s grade or allow any number of absences.
The lack of uniformity in attendance policies creates confusion for many students on campus. With four classes a day and four different absence allowances, it is difficult for a student to keep track of which class allows how many absences. If they mix up policies, neither they nor their professors will benefit from the misunderstanding.
One way to discontinue situations such as this is to create one uniform attendance policy. Students can better understand and adhere to a single overall rule. This would keep things simple for faculty and students alike.
The attendance policy should be lenient because students need to be granted the opportunity to act as responsible adults by managing their priorities. As it appears, the university does not believe students are ready to be completely without an attendance policy, so it must agree with Shankle’s position that attendance is an important aspect of success in a student’s life. Shankle said learning takes place in the community of a classroom when students come prepared for class discussion and participation. She said she believes when students miss class, they also miss learning that cannot be replicated simply by reading the text.
If that is true, let us develop an attendance policy that is simple and consistent – for the good of the students.