Students: Attendance our decision

NKU student Avram Steuber, a junior sociology major, learned the hard way that some professors take class attendance very seriously – seriously enough to lower your grade if you don’t show up.

Steuber took Introduction to Music in order to fulfill a general studies requirement and the professor enforced a strict attendance policy. His final grade dropped one letter when he missed twelve classes and the professor’s policy allowed for a maximum of six absences.

“The (professor’s) policy was stated in the syllabus, but it was a general studies course and I did fine with the homework,” said Steuber. “I had a B but he lowered my grade to a C only because I missed class too many times.”

According to NKU’s 2002-2003 Catalog, “students may not be penalized with a lowered grade merely on the basis of non-attendance unless class participation is clearly essential to the educational goals of the course.” The policy also states students must be informed of the importance of classroom attendance by the fifth day of class.

NKU professors have different policies regarding classroom attendance. Some professors use their policy to encourage attendance by incorporating in-class exercises which must be completed to pass the course, while others lower grades if a student misses a certain number of classes. Yet, others rely on the students to make the decision themselves.

Marketing professor Tom Gamble does not use attendance to determine grades. He fills his lectures with valuable information that will be on tests and not found in the text, but leaves attendance decisions up to the students.

On the other hand, Dr. Yasue Kuwahara, a professor in Radio-Television, maintains a policy that more than four absences will result in points taken off the final grade. “I am serious about teaching,” she said. “I want to give a good education to my students.”

Kuwahara said it is possible for students to pass a course if they keep up with homework assignments and study for tests, even if they do not attend regularly, but they are unable to receive the good education she offers in class.

Julane Kirtley, a senior Biology major, said she understands why professors get frustrated when students do not show up for class. However, she said it is the student’s responsibility to keep up with the work and not the professor’s. “Since we are in college, we should be responsible enough to show up for class,” she said, “but I believe the professor should provide me with an educational and entertaining class that’s worth my time.”

Steuber agreed that attendance is important to most classes but said the decision should be left up to the student. “Now that I am in my major courses, I go to class all the time,” Steuber said. “These classes are worth my time…I know attendance is necessary in order to learn all the information.”