Academic journal article Research & Teaching in Developmental Education

The Impact of Attendance, Instructor Contact, and Homework Completion on Achievement in a Developmental Logic Course

Academic journal article Research & Teaching in Developmental Education

The Impact of Attendance, Instructor Contact, and Homework Completion on Achievement in a Developmental Logic Course

Article excerpt


The impact of attendance and other factors upon student achievement in a developmental logic course was examined. Participants were 51 at-risk college students. Achievement was correlated with attendance, total contact hours between instructor and student, homework, mini-quiz, ACT-mathematics, and ACT-composite scores. Average differences between male and female students were also compared for all variables. Significant correlations were found between achievement and attendance, homework, and mini-quizzes. The author concludes that although attendance does play a role in achievement, other factors need to be considered and that a more fine-grained analysis is needed to understand achievement in populations of at-risk students.

Regular attendance appears to be such an obvious condition for success in college as to hardly warrant further discussion. Based on the author's experience teaching at-risk students for six years in the same institutional setting, students who miss too many classes end up doing poorly, withdrawing, or requiring significant help in the form of one-on-one meetings or tutoring in order to catch up. Of course, there are students who do attend regularly and still struggle, just as there are students who regularly miss class and succeed, but overall, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that attendance matters.

A different set of observations, again anecdotal, complicates this tidy commonsensical view. Based on the author's experience, today's students are busier than ever: whether they are parents, working 20 to 30 hours per week, volunteering, taking additional credit hours to graduate on time, or struggling to overcome a learning or behavioral disability, students know they are going to miss class occasionally and they plan ahead. Taking advantage of office hours, tutoring, e-mail correspondence, web sites, and their ubiquitous cell phones, students manage to create a meaningful educational experience outside of the regular classroom. Given this "distribution" of meaningful learning over different modes of interacting with the instructor or the course material, what goes on outside of the classroom may be just as important as what goes on inside the classroom. Therefore, a wider range of factors may need to be considered to adequately understand what affects student achievement.

In fact, a review of recent work on the relationship between attendance and achievement reveals a range of conclusions. For example, Jones (1984) studied 496 introductory psychology students and found that absences correlated with final course grade (r= -.33, p< .001). Brocato (1989) studied 419 economics students over a period of four years and found an r= -.43 (p< or = .01) between absences and final grade. In 1993, Gunn reported a positive correlation of r=.66 (p< .01) between attendance and final grades for 103 first-year psychology students. Van Blerkom (1996) reported a highly significant correlation of r=.46 (p< .001) for 140 students enrolled in either an Adolescent Development or Introductory Educational Psychology course. Finally, Launius (1997) studied 378 students in four sections of an introductory psychology course over four years and found correlations ranging from r=.24 (p< .05) to r=.40 (p< .01) between attendance and achievement.

Review of the literature produced three studies dealing with at-risk populations. Immerman (1982) worked with 23 American Indian adults enrolled in a developmental mathematics course and reported an r=.49 between attendance and final course grade (p< .05). Berenson, Carter, and Norwood (1992) also studied developmental mathematics students. Their work was based on a sample of 263 freshman students; however, they found no significant correlation between attendance and final course grade (p< .05). Thomas and Higbee (2000) analyzed the relationship between involvement and achievement among 119 developmental algebra students. …

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