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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Attendance cited as pivotal for student college success

Student Edward Stewart enters the Technology Arts Building late for class while student Krystal Reyes waits in the lobby for an evening class to begin on NE Campus. Casey Holder/The Collegian
Student Edward Stewart enters the Technology Arts Building late for class while student Krystal Reyes waits in the lobby for an evening class to begin on NE Campus.
Casey Holder/The Collegian

By Emily Couchman and Ciaran Lambert

Most students have skipped a class at some time or another, but many of them don’t realize just how much it can affect their grades and possibly their future career by making class-cutting a habit.

Bryan Stewart, TR vice president of academic affairs, believes in the importance of regular class attendance.

With diverse instructors and lessons, Stewart said, “attendance is essential to student success” in each course. Students who regularly miss class typically are the ones who drop or fail the course, he said.

Stewart said TCC takes pride in the fact that it hires “diverse and dynamic” instructors who work hard to make each class interesting. Faculty members deliver information each day that students would otherwise have to figure out on their own, Stewart said.

“There is significant research to link attendance to improved grades,” said Joe Rode, NW student development vice president. “Research indicates that students who miss a significant number of classes, four or more, tend to suffer more than students who simply miss one or two sessions.

“Instructors often supplement material in the textbook through in-class lectures and from other classroom interactions. Attendance in certain disciplines, for example mathematics, is critical for understanding new concept development.”

Stewart said TCC will implement a districtwide attendance policy for developmental classes starting this summer and carrying on into fall.

“We wanted to give students and faculty a heads-up before doing this,” he said. “We didn’t want to just surprise them and start it in the spring semester.”

Students attending a developmental course who miss a cumulative 15 percent of the class meetings and do not keep up with course assignments will be dropped at the discretion of the teacher.

Stewart said students will be given notices to keep them in check.

“We’re going to add a thing on CampusCruiser that if you’ve missed a certain amount of days, you will be sent an e-mail notice letting you know,” he said. “This way, students will be able to hold themselves accountable and keep lots of communication with them and their teachers.”

Students taking developmental math, reading and writing courses will be within the boundaries of this policy. However, Transition to Success and English as a second language students will be exempt.

Regular class attendance also builds the essential collaboration skills students learn by working together in the classroom, traits that today’s employers are looking for, Rode said. Students who develop that skill will have an advantage at their workplace over those who didn’t.

“Business and industry need collaborative teams pulling together as opposed to employees working independently in silos,” he said.

South Campus student Raechel Artz has also felt the importance of attendance on her education.

“It makes it easier because you have more of a feel of the course,” she said. “There are fewer surprises, and you aren’t on your own trying to figure out the lesson.”

It’s important to get a good grasp on the lessons and the notes, Artz said, because no slideshow can explain everything students need to know as being in class can.

The person one shares notes with may not have the same learning style, student Karina Peña said.

“I think students need to talk with advisors and faculty members who they have taken and develop the class schedule that fits their schedule,” Stewart said.

“I would caution that attendance is extremely important in the face-to-face lecture. Students should not make a face-to-face class like a distance learning class.”

Currently, TCC does not allow teachers to grade on attendance. But most teachers believe if students register for a class, it is in their best interest to go to class.

“There’s a correlation between attendance and achievement, and if a student is paying to be here, they should be here,” said Mary Kay Buinger, NE history instructor.

Dr. Eileen Preston, NW biology professor, agrees with Buinger.

“As an instructor, I don’t see it not being detrimental,” Preston said. “To gain anything from class, you need to be an active participant and that means actually attending class.”

Many faculty members across the district have expressed an interest in required attendance.

Many professors encourage the students’ presence by giving daily quizzes or participation points that can affect a student’s overall grade.

“I think our college will look into this in the near future,” Stewart said.

He said a committee is being formed to work on the issue and he wants to talk with students and faculty about attendance.

“We’re exploring what other schools are doing, and it’s on the table to consider,” he said. “We want to talk with students and faculty and ask questions and get their input. Lots of folks are interested, and so you will see big movement this semester.”

The fact remains that students who attend regularly will gain more from their college experience.

“While going to school and giving it your all, you are investing in your future,” Artz said. “Ten years from now, whatever made you want to skip class probably won’t be that important — your degree will.”

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