I’ve always had an ambivalent relationship with class attendance policies. On the one hand, I think it’s important for students to attend. That’s particularly true for the weaker students, who can both benefit the most from the class interaction and who, in my experience, are most likely to skip class. But I don’t like to assign points for just showing up, especially when there are students who are disciplined enough to do well in a class through self study. It’s also a pain to track attendance and points for attendance. The entire situation is complicated by the fact that most classes in our college are recorded and made available online for registered students.
I’ve never found a good solution, but I think I may have stumbled on a reasonable approximation. This quarter in my beginning Python class I’ve been passing out a roster every day for students to sign. It initially started because I had to record who was showing up during the first week. But this quarter, for some reason I can’t explain, I kept doing it. There are no points for lecture attendance, but I wanted to know for myself who was showing up. I’m finding that attendance is very good, which is unusual for the spring quarter. Students are also explaining to me why they’re gone when they do miss. So either they haven’t read the syllabus and don’t know that there are no points for attendance, or my mere observation of their attendance is enough encouragement. I suppose I’ll determine which of those is the explanation, or if there’s another factor I’m not seeing, by the end of the quarter. In the meantime I’m enjoying seeing a full class nearly every day.