Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Go to class

Your grade will improve. Jennjou Chen and Tsui-Fang Lin estimate the effect of class attendance using a randomized experiment:

The study of determinants of a college student’s academic performance is an important issue in higher education. Among all factors, whether or not attending lectures affects a student’s exam performance has received considerable attention. In this paper, we conduct a randomized experiment to study the average attendance effect for students who have chosen to attend lectures, which is the so-called the average treatment effect on the treated in program evaluation literature. This effect has long been neglected by researchers when estimating the impact of lecture attendance on students’ academic performance. Under the randomized experiment approach, least squares, fixed effects, and random effects models all yield similar estimates for the average treatment effect on the treated. We find that, class attendance has produced a positive and significant impact on students’ exam performance. On average, attending lecture corresponds to a 7.66% improvement in exam performance.

I agree with this finding. I've found that even in my most unbearable classes, ones in which I can't understand the person lecturing, or when the material is so boring I'd rather volunteer for a waterboarding experimentthan attend lecture, I still do much better even if I go and just listen, rather than simply not go at all.
This study makes me want to ask a question. What if you attend class but do not actively listen. I know I am not the only person who has gone to class and listened to lectures, while updating their facebook or reading While I agree, I do feel my grade does improve just by going, I know I do much better when I actively listen rather than use the lecture as background noise.
In my personal life this study was true with me. I have seen in my several years of attending school my grade reflects accordingly to my attendance. For instance at the beginning of the term I make a goal effort to attend every class, I always seem to make it to all of the first half or prior lectures to the first exam and do fairly well. Almost always the lecture following the exam I miss and some. And so, I tend to do fairly worse on the second exam. Even though some classes can be very boring and hard to stay focus I have found that just going does improve my exam scores, and I don't have to study as hard (as long) as if I hadn't attended class. So either way going to class is much more beneficial than not going at all.
The result of this study is not surprising; in fact, I would be surprised if this result did not occur. What I am curious about though is whether or not the effect of attending class changes depending on what subject the class is. My feeling is that on subjects like math, physics, and the hard sciences, the effect of going to class would by minimized because those subjects do not involve interpretation. They are purely analytical, and you could just go by the text and wouldn't have to worry about the professor's personal leanings or preferences in subject matter.

However, on more "loose" subjects like political science, history, and (to a certain extent) economics, I think going to class would have greater effect on grades. History teachers could choose to teach from a certain viewpoint and present certain facts that the book might not teach, and economics professors could choose to present certain tools or schools of thought that they prefer.

I would be interested in seeing a study like this comparing classes of differing subjects and their respective effects of class attendance.
I definitely agree that attending class, in general, improves your grade, even if you are not actively listening. I know that even in classes where I do not pay attention, I still do better than if I just didnt go at all. I think a big part of it is that if you at least show up for the class its on your mind and you know what was covered even it you do not know the details. Plus once I miss a class, I feel like there is a much higher chance that I will miss another one.
I think it should be considered with personal interest. If the student who is not attending the classes are not interested in "academic things", the grade is not effected by attendance whether the student attends the classes or not. Becuase in common sense, the student who is eager to study will attends classes rather than the others who are seeking just requirment for graduation.
I agree with this post, I think going to class can help maintain my grade. Even if I bring my laptop to class is still better than not going to class. Once, I missed a class. I will have no clued what was cover during that lecture. I will have no clued what to study.
I would agree and can relate to the study of class attendence. My first couple years of college I would always give myself an excuse to not go to class, and my grades have shown. But after maturing a bit and focused more on school and not on other things my test scores, and grades have gone up. Also when you go to class your professors notice and are more willing to give you a better grade if they know that you try hard and did everything possible to get a good grade in the class.
Is it just me, or did this post just point out the obvious? Of course going to class is going to raise your test scores, how could it not? Some will argue that such courses like physics, math, and maybe even some economics classes do not need to be attended because they are so analytical. Unless the professor goes completely “by the book,” however, students will miss some information by not going to class. In my experience, going to class gives me huge hints on how the tests will be formatted and exactly what will be on them. I am sure that most professors also design their tests and quizzes so that students who do go to class will probably do better. I am sure the amount by which students benefit by going to class varies between certain subjects, but this post just seemed like simple common sense to me.
Going to class is something that I have incorporated in all my classes. I rarely miss any of my classes because I need to have a background on information before I can review it. I have some friends who can not attend a single class and do very well in classes. I also have friends who can make it to every class and not do well in it. But I try to encourage my friends regardless of which type of student they are to attend because we are paying for an education not a degree or at least thats what I am here for. But I am glad that going to class does have a correlation to a higher grade it makes me think my drive to attend will pay off.
I totally agree with this finding. This is my second Bachelor in this school and when I was in my country, I didn't get high grades because I didn't attend classes. After graduating, I started working but one day, I really wanted to study again because I realized I did not have any sufficient knowledge. So, I came here to study again. Students usually do not recognize the importance of studying. Actually, knowledge is not important. The most valuable thing is experience that study hard. When studying hard and attending classes every day, they care about grades and it is a good spiral for studying.
I agree with the research paper that it's better to go to the class but there are times of unexpected events like other class work(if you are taking many credits...) and jobs or other factors that interferes with attending the class, not necessarily because of the going to class is not helpful, its just that sometimes you have to minimize the opportunity cost...
The cost of not attending lectures is high when it time to take exams. Although in class you might not be carefully listening, you still retain some information. I've found when I take courses that don't start early in the morning I can attend most of lectures = better grades. I would like to see a more detailed experiment.
I totally agree that this article points out the obvious, just about every professor I have had has always added their own flavor to the curriculum instead of just following the book. I have even had several classes where books were not required and everything important that you needed to know could be provided through lecture, there are several reasons why attending class is vital for achieving better grades
I totally agree that this article points out the obvious, just about every professor I have had has always added their own flavor to the curriculum instead of just following the book. I have even had several classes where books were not required and everything important that you needed to know could be provided through lecture, there are several reasons why attending class is vital for achieving better grades
I think this is true in general, I do think there are definitely exceptions to this rule though. I think most of us have probably had at least one class, where we feel like the outcome of our grade wouldn't have changed whether we went to more or less classes. I think this depends a lot on the subject matter, the quality of the textbook and teacher, and the difficulty of the class. If a teacher is not very good at communicating, but the textbook and slides are great,and the material is not particularly difficult, then I am sure that the marginal benefit of attending each class wouldn't be as high as the case that they studied. I also would like to see something comparing different classes.
I do not completely agree with this notion. I found that listening to a boring teacher who just read from the power point is much less efficient than study by yourself. In my freshman year, I had one incredibly boring professor and of course I could not even stay awake and I did not do as well. The next semester (since it's a sequence course), I had another class with the same professor. I stopped going to class and just did the homework and went to class for test and I did incredibly well.

So, this finding assumes that teacher is equally interesting, which is not true. Some teachers are much better than others. Some are much worse than others.
Attending lectures will almost always improve your grade in the class. For instance, some professors only mention certain things in class. So if you decide not to attend class that day, you might end up not hearing about the random extra credit assignment due the next day. You might not hear about valuable information for your exam. And in order to actually improve your grade by attending lectures, you actually have to listen and focus to the lectures. Sure, you would do better attending the lecture while facebooking than you would not attending the lecture at all. But obviously you would learn even more by listening intently to the lecture than you would internet-surfing throughout the entire class.
I believe it totally depends on the teaching style of the instructor. If students are being taught strictly from a text or following along through a text, it seems like attending class would not have as big of an impact.
I personally think the relationship found is more correlation, rather than causal. Someone who attends class is signaling that s/he is interested in the subject and is willing to learn the material, and will thus study more to do well in the course. However, if someone skips class, s/he most likely does not care about the subject and will not put as much effort in. I do believe that students can learn from lectures, but a lot of the learning comes from doing the work on your own, rather than watching it done on the board.
I think the everyone knows the things. But still no everyone attain the class. Why? I believe that most people may underestimate the class and think the class is easy. So they don;t go to class. I believe that go to class can have better grade. I can still get some information from class even though I don;t listen so carefully. So go to class will result in better grade.
I believe the study is misleading. 7.66%? Even with their long list of variables, not nearly enough consideration is made to warrant a claim that lectures improve scores. However it would be unfair to say that I didn't agree in my own particular experience. I feel more engaged and empowered when I attend class. Likewise, i feel guilt when I miss class because my parents are paying for school. Does the guilt I feel from missing class outweigh the joy of leisure time I gain? Its difficult to say and individually specific yet I think the majority of "learning" is done outside the classroom, in study session, group work, office hours, etc. Knowledge retention is another factor to consider. I feel like an outlier because my spotty attendance doesn't reflect my desire my a high grade.
Going to class and test scores are correlated and does not necessarily mean that going to class causes higher grades. Someone who never goes to class but does all the readings and studies the material everyday will do better than someone who goes to every class but never reads and crams. However it's likely that someone who is diligent enough to go to every class is also likely to be the type of student who puts in effort on readings and studies.
This analysis yields a classic "correlation or causation" result. While I entirely agree and am not surprised by the nominal findings, the root cause could be a combination of two factors. The increased attendance can definitely CAUSE a higher score. But also, a student with a predetermined propensity for higher academic performance will likely attend class more often than a lazy and apathetic counterpart. I believe that the result is very likely caused by both factors.
On average, students that go to class care more, so doesn't that clearly contribute to the improvement in test scores, I'd much prefer to see how students perform on online vs. lecture based classes to see if there is still the same difference.
I absolutely agree that just by going to class you will retain more information and do better on the test. Even if you do not actively participate in the lecture and space out at times you will be surprised in how much you retain, and as long as you retain something you will have an advantage over those how decided to skip.
Like most college students, i have lived this study. Overall i would agree that going to class does help when it comes to grades. There are though, certain exeptions to this. I found in one of my classes, that of my two midterms for the course, the one in which i attended class the least before it, i ended up with a higher grade. While this could have just been a difference in the difficult of the material, i came up with a plausable reason for it. My idea is that in response to not going to class as much, i found myself studying harder for the exam. I knew that i had missed the information given in class, so i really needed to study harder and put more work in. Going to class every day gave me a false sense of security and the idea that because i was there the whole time, i didnt need to study as hard. I think it would be interesting to compare study time for people who went to class and those who didnt. In my case, i seem to put in more time when i havent been to every class.
From my own personal experience this Study holds very true, no matter what subject matter is being taught or lectured about, it seems that just being present in the class leaves you with at least some impression of what was being said and when it appears on a test it is at least familiar to you. while some people may retain information better out of a book or on their own, in many cases teachers write their own tests which can vary from the words or interpretation of the assigned text. while a teacher may follow the book, it is the teacher who is grading the tests, not the writers of the text.
I believe this result makes perfect sense. If you don't atten the class, how are you going to receive the knowledge? I don't believe a person can do well on exams even he study every lectures by powerpoints. There's got to be more explantion or specific by the instructor. Even if you are using computer in class for facebook or playing games, I still believe somehow you'll at least receive some knowledge than not goin to class at all. If every classes can be study by slides without a instructor explaining, then every schools in states should all be online universities. That's why it is very important to attend class.
This leaves me to the question, whats the opportunity cost for attending class? A better score on another paper? $20/a hour? It would be interesting to see what the average person did while skipping class.
I also have found that going to class improves grades. Whether I'm paying attention or not its pretty inevitable that I will hear something the teacher says which I've always found to be somewhat helpful at some point. This along with the fact that if I don't attend class I am most defiantly not studying that class during that period. Studying for exams is always easier plus you might be recognized by the teacher for attending class and they may grade more leniently toward you.
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