Class Attendance and Students' Evaluation of Their College Instructors

Article excerpt

The massification of higher education is changing the cultural context of the institutes partaking in the system. It is now widely recognized that effective communication is a crucial pre-requisite to the achievement of teaching and learning outcomes in higher education. Effective communication strategies in the classroom are essential, and student teacher feedback is elementary, in fostering such an effective communication.

At one Israeli college, an attempt has been made to assess the nature of student-teacher communications, which bear on learning outcomes. The conclusions of this study help understand students' evaluation of their teachers.

Student attendance in various classes, and student evaluations of instructors' conduct of the class were measured and assessed, respectively, in a large Israeli college. The 9,636 completed questionnaires provided data on student's evaluations of instructors in 634 different courses.

As hypothesized, the higher the rate of class attendance, the higher students' evaluation of the instructor. This relationship was consistent across the five faculties of the college. Of all background variables, only the student's status (year of study) was found to be relevant. The paper discusses implications of this finding for teaching and learning outcomes.


The enormous increase in the number of students attending institutions of higher education in Israel (as in all Western countries) was achieved due to the so-called "massification of higher education" (Trow, 1974). This massification was facilitated in turn by the ideology of equality in educational opportunities. As a result, the higher education system transformed from a privilege for a few, to the right for all (Trow, 1972). The huge expansion of higher education reflects the fact that the very context of higher education has changed. Some attribute this fundamental change to the shift in higher education's role in modern and modernizing societies and economies. Basically, higher education has moved from a peripheral status, on the margins of societal concern and importance, to a core status of central importance to societies and economies (Morrison, 1998).

The rapid expansion of the student body in Israel was the result of two fundamental changes in the system. First and foremost, the Israeli higher education system became more diversified. The first stage came at the end of the 1970s. Teacher training underwent a process of academization. The formerly post-secondary teacher training seminaries evolved into teaching colleges that granted B.Ed. (later adding M.Ed.) diplomas to their graduates (CHE, 2001). The second stage followed suite: During the 1990s, the higher education system underwent further expansion, when the 10th amendment to the Council for Higher Education Law permitted the establishment of academic colleges of various types, including general colleges, technological colleges and colleges specializing in a single profession or discipline. Compared to two institutions of higher learning in 1948, when independence was granted, the Israeli higher education system in 2002 comprised eight universities; twenty-four fully accredited academic colleges, twenty six academic teacher colleges, and a dozen academic programmers at regional colleges under the academic supervision of universities (CHE, 2003). The student population catapulted from 1,600 in 1948, to approximately 9,000 by the end of the 1950s, over 35,000 in 1970, 56,000 in 1980 (CHE, 2001), approximately 88,500 in 1989/90 and almost to 229,000 in 2002/3 (CBS, 2004).

The huge expansion in the last decade has been achieved by liberalizing the admittance standards. Thus, in 2001, the mean matriculation grades of students at elite universities, mainstream universities, private colleges and other colleges were 100, 98, 92, and 87, respectively (Ayalon & Yogev, 2002, 38). The mean psychometric grades of the university students exceeded 650, yet was close to 600 for private college students. …