By Edgar Lopez
Attendance points should not affect a student’s final grade, as it is distorting the true value of the knowledge that the student attains throughout a course. At East Los Angeles College, instructors are under policy to not offer any points for attendance.
However, many instructors on campus do the opposite. As it says in the fall 2012 catalog for attendance policies, “The student is expected to attend every meeting of all classes for which he or she is registered.”
If attendance is an indispensable factor of all classes, then why would we reward students for attending? In a small poll done on Facebook, 13 out of 39 people voted that attendance should not affect the grade. Five people voted it should have little effect on the grade.
Two people voted that attendance should only help but not hurt a final grade leaving only one person who voted that it should not matter.
In this poll, Chris Garcia, a University of California, Los Angeles graduate with a major in American Politics, said that students need an incentive to attend class and that attendance points can help encourage engagement.
There are flaws to this thinking.Is knowledge and wisdom not the incentive for attending classes or participating in higher education? There are a few reasons as to why someone would think attendance points are good.
When considering that a few points may help the student pass or receive a higher grade, the grading policy of points for attendance sounds enticing as it can help the student pass his or her class, or improve his or her grade point average.
It can save the student a semester’s worth of struggle and the possibility of retaking the course. By failing to attend, the student may miss out on opportunities to improve their mental and/or physical skills.
They would also miss the opportunity to participate in a class discussion. Discussions and the lecture is what generally helps a student attain a deeper understanding of the course material.
While the instructor has the responsibility of maintaining a well-organized class that involves classroom engagement, it is also the responsibility of students to participate.
There are also those instructors who lecture nonstop but give attendance points. In one anthropology class, the instructor promised a C to any student who had perfect attendance throughout the semester.
The instructor felt that sitting through her boring lectures was worth the grade, as she said. She also promised 10 extra points for attending any library workshop.
This is an example of why there needs to be more participation and classwork in a course and why attendance should not be taken into the final grade.
Another reason the opposition gives for rewarding attendance is that students can benefit from it as it helps strengthen punctual and consistent attendance habits.
Although these are desirable habits that students may benefit from, this is a tactic that should only be used in elementary or middle school.
Teen and adult students should have enough sense of responsibility to be in control of their schedules by the time they reach college-level courses or even high school courses.
As for physical education courses that rely on attendance for grading, instructors can quiz or test students on athletic ability or on knowledge of the sport or activity. This would also help students become engaged in the activity or sport.
Students and instructors who prefer the attendance-based points should realize that this is only painting over rusted metal.
When students are awarded points for attendance, they are earning a grade that does not represent their true knowledge or ability but a muddy depiction of a GPA.