To take roll, or not to take roll. That is the question. How best to keep track of our minions in class?
Maybe Gru is right… perhaps a roll call is necessary in order to keep our students present and on task; maybe we should “revisit how many vacation days they get.” But do we have to take the roll to achieve the objective of present, engaged students?
Just in time for us to finalize our course syllabi for the fall, two colleagues from George Mason University discuss their divergent models for enforcing attendance in this piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education. What each emphasizes in common is the link between class attendance and student learning objectives — so note how each attendance model is designed to advance their objectives.
Do any or my intrepid readers have additional ideas for how to address the dreaded attendance question? Please share in the comments below!
July 14, 2014
Two faculty members offer different answers to the question of whether and how to take roll in college courses
The Canadian poet Tom Wayman wrote a darkly humorous poem in response to a question we faculty members hear frequently from students who have missed class. In “Did I Miss Anything?” he conveys the mixed emotions that faculty members experience about student attendance. Most of us would like to answer that question as Wayman does in one passage:
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
When students miss class, they miss out on important details, changes to the syllabus, and new assignments, not to mention the opportunity for a deeper understanding of a topic. They miss the chance to ask questions, learn from their peers, and show us where we may need to slow down, speed up, or retrace particular elements of the course content.
That said, faculty approaches to student attendance are as varied as professors themselves. The two of us are a case in point. We would like to share our radically different attendance policies and why we adhere to them, in hopes of shedding some light on an issue about which many faculty members hold conflicting views.