Different professors have different attendance policies

JoAnn Parker
Staff Reporter

Professors of similar courses can have varying policies.  For example, Tom Kleen and Jim Roscovius, both of the computer science department, are nearly opposite when it comes to attendance.

“I take attendance in all my classes,” Kleen says.  “Most of my classes do not have a textbook, so being in class is the only way students can learn the material.  They need discipline to get [the] work done, and it is easier to show up to class than to do the work on their own.”

Kleen added that although attendance does not count toward students’ grades, their grades should be better the more they attend class.

Roscovius, who teaches only an introductory computers course, has a different opinion.  “It’s a federal requirement that I take attendance the first week or two to verify who is enrolled, but after that I do not take attendance,” he says.  “The reason is that I am trying to prepare students for the outside world.  In a career position, employers will expect workers to show up at work every day and do what is expected of them, and I am the same way.”

For this reason, Roscovius does not give points for attending class.  "I do not feel that it prepares students for the real world by rewarding them for doing something they are expected to do anyway.”

Professors who teach multiple styles of classes often modify their attendance policy for each class.  Dr. Jeremy Owens of the music department says his lecture classes allow for two absences before losing points for subsequent unexcused absences, but his piano classes and private lessons only allow for two absences before the student’s grade drops by one letter.  

“These [piano classes and lessons] are much more hands-on and individualized than my lecture classes, and students progress at different rates.  The attendance policy allows me to keep track of each student’s progress and teach accordingly,” Owens says.

Unlike Kleen and Roscovius, part of a students’ grade is based on attendance.  “Attendance is worth five points of the final grade in my classes,” he says, although he added that he does not give extra points for perfect attendance.  “I feel that grades should not be affected by students doing what they should be doing in the first place.”

For Dr. Matthew Pangborn of the English department, a few absences do not affect a student’s grade directly, but it is difficult to make up materials covered in class.  “I allow four absences of any kind without penalty,” Pangborn says.  “However, if a student misses many class times for any reason, it is hard to succeed in my class.  Discussions are very important in my class, and there is not a way to make that up.”

Currently, Pangborn’s students do not receive extra credit for perfect attendance, but it is something he is considering.  “I commend students for having perfect attendance,” he says.

Dr. William Mangan, vice president for academic affairs, says he thinks the variety of attendance policies is good for students.  

“The variety prepares students for future employment,” Mangan said.  “Different bosses will have different expectations.  The most successful students – and employees – should be able to work with all types.”

What are students’ opinions on the matter of attendance?

“I never miss class, even if attendance is not mandatory,” says junior Andrew Roghair.  “I feel like attendance is an obligation, and that I get more out of the class if I am there.”

Sophomore Rachel Mairose agreed that students should go to class but with some exceptions.

“Attendance is important, but I do not think students should be penalized for missing if they are sick or overtired, no matter how many absences they have had.  They are probably not going to retain the material anyway if they are not feeling well.”


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Submitted by kulzerm on Tue, 02/26/2013 - 16:55

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