aProblems with paper
In line with most other departments, the Sociology department expect that staff will take registers in seminars but accept that attendance monitoring for lectures is usually impractical. However, it was very clear that there was a variety of practice, ranging from nothing at all in some cases to detailed spreadsheet reports even showing coursework marks in others. A standard paperbased register form was available but tutors tended to adopt methods they were comfortable with, such as passing round a sign-up sheet and filing it or filling in more detailed record sheets after the session. Monitoring of attendance by year tutors was supposed to take place at key points in the year – survey weeks - but in reality it was often so difficult to get information from staff that a partial view was all that could ever be achieved. There was also uncertainty about who should deal with nonattendance – should it be the personal tutor, the year tutor, the unit tutor or the programme leader? - and many cases fell through the net. Difficulties were compounded by having students from different programmes mixed together and uncertainty at the beginning of the year about who was supposed to be in which class, especially in the first year when information comes relatively late in the day. A system of ‘chasing’ students was in place but depended on getting information from tutors. Even when this was forthcoming, it was often partial, resulting in several letters being sent to students about different units. Furthermore, if a student missed three classes, received a letter, turned up for a class and then missed two more they would get the same letter again. The more letters they receive, the more the students perceive this as an administrative matter of no real import. The message that we are not really bothered about attendance and only pay lip service to our procedures seeps out to the student body and the culture of non-attendance worsens. What was therefore...
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