Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Piece of the Puzzle?

An article about the effects of absenteeism on K-12 students made me think of several of our discussions here. While the reasons young kids from disadvantaged households miss school are sad, and, of course, completely beyond their control, I worry that "poor attendance habits" do, indeed, lead not only to "truancy and dropping out," but also to a continuing habit of expecting to miss classes and somehow be able to catch up anyway (or to hold the teacher accountable for failing to do so). For that reason, I was glad to see that excused and unexcused absences are being treated the same for the purpose of studying the problem.

This sentence also caught my eye as being equally applicable to college teaching: "'Better teaching doesn't matter if you don't have kids there to benefit from it,' said Hedy N. Chang, director of the San Francisco-based advocacy group Attendance Counts."

It also helps, as Darla recently pointed out, if students are not only present, but also showing signs of life.


  1. One of my colleagues objects to the use of discussion sections on the grounds that "the students don't attend or do the readings or participate" and that "students say they don't get a lot out of them".

    To which I would say, well, students come and do the readings and participate in MY sections, because I attach a grade to those behaviours; and that I'm not too interested in the opinion of students who haven't bothered to show up or do the readings on the value of a discussion section they haven't been there for.

  2. We should put heart rate monitors on every student. Unless that pulse is steady or picking up pace, they get shocked.

    It may happen that we lose a few, but it's better we have them electrified rather than zonk-ified.


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