Should college students be required to attend class through mandatory attendance policies? Should professors deduct points for students who miss more than a given number of absences? This can be a heated debate between students and instructors, and between instructors with different opinions as well. Here are some arguments on both side.
Arguments in Favor of Mandatory Attendance Policies
One of the main arguments in favor of requiring attendance is that good attendance is needed to develop a strong sense of community in a classroom, and to foster a healthy sense of class participation. For instructors who choose to stick with the old lecture model, this isn't an issue. However, many instructors opt to have a participatory classroom filled with discussions and activities. This kind of teaching requires quite a bit more effort, and if it works well, the experience can be very beneficial and rewarding for students. However, students have to show up for this to work and take mutual responsibility to participating in class discussion-- and failure to show up and participate hurts the experience of other students.
Another argument in favor of mandatory attendance policies goes under the "life lesson" category. In the real world, if you don't show up for work most of the time, you're going to be fired. If students get into the habit of not showing up for class with no concrete consequences, what lesson does that teach? One of the most important lessons that students need to learn in college is self-discipline, and by requiring students to come to class, students are given strong incentives to become disciplined (or at least disciplined enough to come to class).
A third argument in favor of mandatory attendance is that students generally do much better in class if they show up. In classes where class exercises and activities are a major part of the learning experience--like public speaking, or creative writing, or television production--low attendance may lead...
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