Attendance, Employability, Student Performance, and Electronic Course Materials: An Exploration and Discussion

Attendance, Employability, Student Performance, and Electronic Course Materials: An Exploration and Discussion

Kristian J. Sund (Roskilde University, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9691-4.ch007
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Abstract

This chapter discusses the possible detrimental effects of low attendance on the achievement of important learning outcomes in terms of “soft” employability-enhancing skills among undergraduate students in business schools, and explores how the use of learning technologies may contribute to high or low class attendance levels. The chapter describes the exploratory results of a survey carried out among final year bachelor students attending a strategic management course, the findings of which suggest that a significant number of students view virtual learning environments as a substitute for lectures. I find only very limited evidence that such students actually attend classes any less than other students do. Furthermore, I find that reasons for non-attendance are similar to those reported in existing literature.
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... because the materials for most of the modules are online this makes students say “Why should I go to the lecture? The material is online I can study at home. - Anonymous student

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Introduction

Absenteeism is a recognized and concerning problem in universities around the world (Devadoss & Foltz, 1996; Romer, 1993). The effects of absenteeism on student performance have received some attention in the higher education literature, in particular in the fields of economics and the medical sciences, with mounting evidence that higher attendance is positively associated with student performance (Newman-Ford, Fitzgibbon, Lloyd, & Thomas, 2008). This is the case because courses designed for classroom participation typically involve meaningful learning experiences that help students. However, what motivates a student to attend scheduled classes or not remains a relatively unexplored area (Woodfield, Jessop, & McMillan, 2006). The recent decade has seen a transition from paper-based to electronically distributed learning materials, making the availability of lecture slides, reading materials, and even video or podcasts on virtual learning platforms increasingly the norm. Some form of blended learning is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

The question of the effect of the availability of electronic learning materials in discouraging attendance is largely unknown, with some indications that a proportion of students may treat digital course materials as a substitute for class attendance (Simpson, 2006). This chapter attempts to explore this gap.

This chapter discusses the possible detrimental effects of low attendance on the learning of “soft skills” among undergraduate students in business schools, and explores how the use of learning technologies may contribute to high or low class attendance levels. The chapter describes the results of a survey carried out among final year bachelor students attending a strategic management course and draws some tentative conclusions on the effects of technology use on attendance and on ensuring student employability.

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