Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

How Do Instructor's Attendance Policies Influence Student Achievement in Principles of Microeconomics?

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

How Do Instructor's Attendance Policies Influence Student Achievement in Principles of Microeconomics?

Article excerpt


The relationship between attendance and performance is an important issue in any classroom setting, including economics courses. Several studies have shown how attendance can influence student performance in the economics classroom (Chen and Lin, 2008; Stanca, 2006). Several other studies have shown evidence of how attendance policies can affect student attendance (Römer, 1993; Durden and Ellis; 1995; Marburger, 2001 & 2006; Dobkin et al., 2009). But, relatively few studies have focused attention on the question of whether the type of attendance policy implementation influences attendance and measured performance in economics (Self, 2012). This is the question we are asking in this paper.

We see from our data (Figure 1) that student absenteeism varies among the different attendance implementations. This graph shows that on the surface (i.e. without controlling for anything) students seemed less likely to miss class when faced with a positively incentivized attendance policy compared to any other approach. Furthermore, we see preliminary evidence of an inverse relationship between absences and student performance (Figure 2).

To investigate this preliminary evidence further, we used a two-stage regression approach. We first looked at whether using different types of attendance policies can have different effects on student absenteeism. Secondly, we looked at whether student attendance has any significant effect on student performance as measured by a student's overall course grade.

From here, the paper is divided into several parts. After this introduction, a brief review of the previous literature is presented. Then the data for this project is discussed and finally the results of the paper are offered with some modest conclusions.


The quantitative study of attendance and student performance in economics courses has a relatively short history, but also a relatively clear one: several studies have repeatedly found solid evidence that class attendance and performance share a strong, positive relationship.

Park and Kerr, in the spring of 1990, used a multinomial logit approach to study grades in different sections of a money and banking course. Using 97 observations and estimating only one equation, the authors find that absenteeism is far from the most important determinant, but does have a negative effect on grades in the class (Park and Kerr, 1990). This paper provides one of the first of several quantitative confirmations that student absenteeism negatively impacts student achievement in economics courses.

A second study by Römer looks at several intermediate macroeconomics classes. He first estimates an equation to measure absenteeism and then uses this equation to measure grades. He finds that generally, absenteeism negatively affects grades (Römer, 1993). Durden and Ellis also find that absenteeism significantly impacts student performance in principles of economics classes. They find a cumulative effect; "The evidence suggests that the effect is nonlinear, becoming important after a student has missed four classes during the semester" (Durden and Ellis, pg. 345, 1995).

Marburger, in 2001, allowed for a direct quantitative connection to be made between student attendance and learning. He "estimates a qualitative choice model in which the likelihood of responding incorrectly to a multiple choice question was related to whether the student was absent during the corresponding class period" when that particular material was covered (Marburger, pg. 100, 2001). He finds that absenteeism is a significant determinant of incorrect responses on multiple questions in a Principles of Microeconomics class. Marburger then extends this work in 2006 by doing a second paper where he analyzes two semesters of students. For one set of students their attendance was taken in class but it never affected their grade. For the other set of students, attendance did affect their grades. …

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