Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Factors Influencing Pharmacy Students' Attendance Decisions in Large Lectures

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Factors Influencing Pharmacy Students' Attendance Decisions in Large Lectures

Article excerpt


Student absenteeism is a concern in higher education as it results in inadequate learning and poorer academic performance on the part of those missing class. (1-14) Absenteeism also has an impact on those students who consistently are present by disrupting the way classes are conducted (eg, faculty members repeating information, directions, or explanations for the benefit of those who were absent in previous classes). The consequences of absenteeism are more far reaching than students' academic performance and disruptions in the classroom. (16) Students who frequently miss class often do not recognize that the classroom is a community to which they belong and that when they are absent, learning declines, student and teacher morale decreases, and academic standards are compromised. (17,18)

Health professions educators, including medical, dental, nursing, and pharmacy educators, share concerns regarding student absenteeism, many of which are related to the importance of professional socialization. (2,15,19-23) The interaction between students and faculty members, both in the classroom and in one-on-one discussions, is crucial as it is part of the professional socialization process in which students observe faculty members and recognize them as role models. (15,24) Since this process is important in instilling professional attitudes and values among pharmacy students, (15,24) missing opportunities for interaction due to excessive absenteeism may hinder the development of professionalism.

Given the negative impact of student absenteeism on academic performance and the development of professionalism among pharmacy students, more research on absenteeism among pharmacy students is warranted. A better understanding of reasons why students attend or do not attend class may help pharmacy educators plan and improve their courses to increase student attendance. A search of the literature identified only 1 study focusing on absenteeism among pharmacy students. (15) That study described first- and second-year pharmacy students' motivations for attending or not attending class; however, qualitative (focus groups) rather than quantitative methods of data gathering were used. (15) The objectives of this research study were to (1) examine how student characteristics affect student absenteeism and (2) describe the reasons for student attendance at and absenteeism from large lectures.



This study was conducted at the Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University, which is located in the southeastern United States. Approximately 120 to 130 students are enrolled in each of the first 3 years of the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, which comprises the majority of the nonexperiential learning component of the program. Classes are held during the fall and spring semesters, and a majority of the first-and second-year coursework occurs in large auditoriums. The third year is comprised predominantly of a problem-based learning curriculum in which students work in teams of 7 or 8 students. There is no school-wide policy requiring attendance in these courses; however, individual courses may develop specific attendance requirements.

Study Design and Sample

The procedures and use of data for this study received exempt status from review by the University's Institutional Review Board. This study consisted of 2 phases. The first phase focused on the development of a survey instrument. Midway through the spring semester, the school's Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment distributed an electronic invitation to all PharmD students requesting participation in a discussion forum focusing on absenteeism issues. As an incentive to participate, lunch was provided to all attendees. The discussion forum is hereafter referred to as a town hall meeting. Approximately 30 students participated in the town hall meeting, which was led by the Dean of the School of Pharmacy. …

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