Program urges students not to sleep through class

Allison Smith

Project aims to gauge class attendance

Student Success Programs has begun a campaign to get students to attend class more often. The goal of the program is to encourage students to show up to class more often so it becomes part of student culture.

Posters are scattered throughout the campus bearing messages such as “Friends don’t let friends sleep through class” and “Going to class will change your life!”

John Jewell, interim associate director of Student Success Programs, said more than 80 years of research has shown class attendance is positively related to course performance.

“Really what we’re trying to do is initiate a kind of culture where attendance is viewed by students as an important piece of their educational experience,” Jewell said.

The goal of the project is to have an idea of how many students come to class, particularly in the larger courses. They will then compare the attendance in large classes to similar courses with smaller enrollments. The professor can see how attendance throughout the semester correlates with the end-of-semester grade.

The project works by passing an attendance sheet around in each class being monitored. When students receive the sheet, they find their name and write their initials beside it.

The professor receives a weekly copy of the roster, who may or may not use it for an attendance grade. If a student misses more than a week of classes, he or she will receive a check-in e-mail from Student Success Programs.

From there, students are encouraged to talk to their professor and to come into Student Success Programs if they need any help. Faculty members are also encouraged to make contact with the student.

“We understand, through research, there are a number of things students can do to improve their chances of succeeding in the classroom,” said Eboni Pringle, interim director of Student Success Programs. “We understand that if they don’t get that information early on, it’s very unlikely we’re going to see them in their second semester.”

Student Success Programs wants to promote how attending class can greatly improve grades. Jewell said students can raise their grades five to 15 points just by attending class.

“Easy step that might have a big impact, and to back that up, it’s 80 years of research,” Jewell said.

Student Success Programs chose a strategic sampling of classes to monitor throughout the university. Some are larger, with 450 students, and some are smaller at 185 students. Two sections of the same class, taught by the same professor, are being monitored. Each have a different number of students.

Kent State isn’t the only university conducting attendance monitoring. Ohio University has an attendance program connected to certain classes. The roster is electronic, and each student swipes his or her ID to check in to the class. But Kent State is only in the first stages of the attendance program, Pringle said.

“What we probably will see is after we’ve had a chance to evaluate the programs, we’ll move forth on how to keep something like this in place,” Pringle said.

Jewell said Student Success Programs stress that students can’t get all information for class from their textbook. Teachers don’t always teach directly from the text, and in class, they can do demonstrations to help students understand the subject better. But they also stress that students have to make the decision to attend class.

“You are independent, and we want you to take responsibility for that,” Jewell said. “You might still rely on your folks for some money, or some help with your tuition, but you’re really kind of on your own here. So take some responsibility.”

Contact news correspondent Allison Smith at [email protected].