In high school, I was often told that coming to class mattered a whole lot. Teachers may have rounded grades at the end of semester, but only if they saw you in class frequently or participating. Attendance was an integral part of the course’s final grade.
However, when I started college, things were much different. Many teachers wanted their students to come to class, but very little, if any, of a final grade was based on whether or not students actually came to class. Many of us probably know a professor who will round your grade if you’re an active participant who has never missed a class and faithfully attends office hours or just stays after class. But this is all extra. None of it is required to get a passing grade in the class. Others of us know a few professors who make a significant part of their grade attendance. For example, my introductory sociology professor makes almost half of our grade based on whether or not we attended class. When looking at how this course is structured, it became clear to me that in all classes, students should be heavily graded on attendance.
The primary reason why students should be heavily graded on attendance is because not every student will do well on exams. This could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe they didn’t study because their mom just died. Maybe they didn’t study because they just had to work two shifts at work. Maybe they just are horrible at test taking strategies and have yet to figure out how to do it. However, they might have shown that they are committed to at least showing up to class and hearing what the professor has to say. This should be commended since that student is taking the time to come to class and learn and make an effort. It gives a greater opportunity for students to be able to demonstrate that they care about the material in lecture. That may be all they reasonably can do or all that gets through to them. Through heavily grading attendance, by just showing up, they could possibly guarantee themselves a passing grade which they deserve for committing to regularly, if not always, being in class.
Heavily grading attendance also forces students to come hear the lecture material. Many students will come to class. However, many students will also skip class. By having attendance be heavily graded, it forces students to come to class, participate and to get the most out of their education. If a student was previously unmotivated, the fact that they get points for just showing up may motivate them to come to class, pay attention and to dive into the material. Even students who may not have originally wanted to will learn to get the most out of their education, which is what educating large groups of people is about.
One of the most important and fiscally responsible reasons why courses that heavily weigh attendance is the fact that it can entirely eliminate a need for a textbook. While textbooks are often used to supplement course material, they are extremely expensive. If the professor heavily weighed attendance and promised to only test what was spoken about in class, they would potentially be able to erase a need for a textbook. This would also benefit students since they would be able to come to class and get points and more than likely do well if they listened to the lecture material and took notes. It creates a learning environment that would be less financially stressful, which many students often worry about.
Coming to class helps with learning the material to the best of your ability. It aids in giving students the chance to get to know their professor and use him or her as a contact for research or someone for a letter of recommendation in the future. When classes heavily grade on attendance, it encourages deepening intellect, gives students who might not take tests well an opportunity to still get a good grade and may eliminate the cost of a textbook. It makes the most sense to grade students heavily on attendance.