Date posted: 24/10/2019

How do you encourage students to attend class?

Discover how leading finance and accounting academics encourage their students to attend class.

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The study “Teaching psychology in Australia: Does class attendance matter for performance?” published in the Australian Journal of Psychology evaluated the role of face-to-face teacher-student engagement in a time of increasing availability of online learning formats.1

The study found a positive correlation between class attendance and academic performance in Australian undergraduate students, reinforcing the importance of maintaining high levels of class attendance.

Chartered Accountants ANZ took advantage of the opportunity to ask conference attendees at the 2019 Accounting & Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ) Annual Conference: ‘How do you encourage students to attend class?’.

AFAANZ 2019 brings together leading accounting and finance academics and is a valuable platform to hear from industry leaders, discover new ideas, and get involved in discussions on a range of industry issues.

Here’s a selection of the insightful responses gathered on the day:

More person-to-person interaction

  • Incorporate person-to-person activities in the classroom
  • Use peer-to-peer teaching as a method of delivery
  • Make time to support students, one-on-one to get through difficult tasks
  • Incorporate collaborative group work to learn from others and practice team/communication skills
  • Teach less and let the students discuss more until they discover key learnings for themselves.

Real world applications

  • Provide practical examples from familiar local case studies and known global contexts
  • Provide regular guest lectures from industry professionals
  • Discuss topical current affairs and provide real life examples of fraud cases
  • Link case studies to course assessments
  • Run live case studies and ask students to participate by offering their input. This can show them how their input affects the final outcome of the exercise and thus how judgement plays an important role in practice
  • Explain the importance of the course subject matter for academic performance and career prospects
  • Make it clear to students how the content/activities are relevant to their future careers (both in online material & through class discussion).

Course design

  • Make class attendance a portion of the final grade
  • Include regular pop quizzes (and prizes for top three students)
  • Include regular, accessible in-class tests
  • Regularly include exam tips and tricks during lectures (that aren’t available online)
  • Include mini test examples after each lesson - i.e. what the assessment of this particular topic could look like
  • Don’t provide lecture recordings.

More great ideas

  • Send regular emails to students to check up on their progress; congratulate those who did well in the subject and encourage those who are absent to attend classes and seek help from teaching staff
  • Use interactive LEGO games to encourage class participation
  • Discuss with students the topics they’re most interested in and try to incorporate this into the course
  • Encourage students to attend class by getting them to calculate the cost of each class they miss
  • Encourage students to attend by providing engaging, active lectures full of passion & personality.

These answers demonstrate that there are a wide range of tactics available to educators to help boost student attendance.

Depending on your delivery style, subject matter, and audience, some tactics may prove more effective than others. It’s also important to remember that different students respond to different motivations, so adopting a mixture of tactics can be an effective way to increase overall student attendance.2

With the increasing ease of recording and posting lectures online, it may be tempting to use this as a substitute for face to face lectures. However, a study by the Australian Journal of Educational Technology, Australian university students’ access to web-based lecture recordings and the relationship with lecture attendance and academic performance, found that establishing a balance between attendance and online learning and allowing the latter to compliment the former can positively impact students’ performance.

Thank you to the AFAANZ conference attendees who contributed their techniques for encouraging students to attend class. We hope this will inspire you and form a basis for further conversation between you and your peers.

1. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57d2f8668419c276f91f3b04/t/5846af17e58c6223015b885d/1481027352355/teaching-psychology-in-australia.pdf

2. https://er.educause.edu/blogs/sponsored/2019/4/how-student-attendance-can-improve-institutional-outcomes

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Teaching psychology in Australia: Does class attendance matter for performance?

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