CET discusses poor classroom attendance

first_imgThe best way to encourage students to attend class is to make sure lectures provide added value, student fellows of the Center for Excellence in Teaching said at a panel discussion Wednesday.Attendance · Members of the Center for Excellence in Teaching suggested that teachers go beyond just using textbooks and refer to current events or pop culture in their lectures to encourage student attendance. – Mindy Curtis | Daily Trojan The panel discussion, which was moderated by James Green, CET undergraduate fellow, included Becky Courter, a CET teaching assistant fellow, Joseph Dombrosky, the CET undergraduate fellows chair, and Colby Kennedy, a CET undergraduate fellow.CET held the panel to receive feedback from students about attendance and to provide extra resources for professors who want to improve class attendance.“There are three primary issues for students,” Green said. “Lack of interest in the class, lack of engagement insofar as participating and getting involved and lack of added value, in that students don’t feel their class experience is adding to their required textbook readings and the other parts of the course.”Green said students can be classified into three categories: those who will attend class no matter what, those who never attend class and those who are somewhere in  between. The students who are in between often feel they have better things to do than attend class.“They don’t feel the class is worth going to. Or [they have] other assignments or quizzes,” Green said. “It’s important that [faculty] create an environment that really encourages students to come to class.”Some students said they have a difficult time going to class when they feel the information is verbatim from the textbook.“What is the most productive way that I can spend my time,” said Frankie Bennett, a senior majoring in business administration. “When a professor is really interesting, of course I’ll be there every time. But when I’m being taught something I could learn faster outside of class, then it doesn’t make sense for to me to go.”Courter said CET is trying to provide extra resources and ideas for professors to improve attendance. It falls on the professors, however, to care about attendance, and on the university to provide incentives for those professors to care.“As a teacher if you care about your students, then you care if they show up,” Courter said.TAs often play a large role in engaging students in the course content because they teach discussion sections that expand on professors’ lectures to a smaller number of students.Courter said she tries to stay as comfortable as possible when she is teaching because she believes it makes students feel comfortable, too.Wayne Glass, professor of international relations, said classroom attendance supports a healthy educational system.“I want my classes to be exciting and active,” Glass said. “In some sense, that’s being successful; it’s a measure of my own success as a professional.”In classes where attendance is high, professors encourage class discussion and interaction give frequent quizzes and assign small group work to replace powerpoint lectures, according to Green.CET encourages professors and TAs to focus on adding value to their lectures by getting students interested in the subject through the use of varied media, such as the internet, pop culture and news articles that cater to student interest.“Find a way to encourage students to learn more outside of class,” Green said. “You want to encourage students to come to class — not just to fulfill an attendance grade, but to learn.”last_img