Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Attendance at Tutorials Revisited

An earlier post covered my concerns about students failure to attend tutorials. I now have the full data available to look at this more closely. The basic evidence remains pretty much the same, more than half the students attended less than 75% of tutorials. What this post adds is the data about the association between tutorial attendance and overall marks.


The correlation coefficient between overall mark and the number of tutorials attended is 0.70. However, a number of students who missed tutorials saw me during consultation times to review the work they missed. If I give those students credit for attending tutorials for when they saw me about their missed work, the correlation coefficient rises to 0.75.


For the students who attended more than 75% of tutorials, every one of them passed. The average mark for these students was 72%. 12 of the 15 Distinctions and High Distinctions earned in the subject came from this group.

For the students who attended between 50% and 75% of tutorials, just over 90% of them passed. The average mark for these students was 62%. The other three Distinctions and High Distinctions came from this group.

For the students who attended less than 50% of tutorials, just over 50% of these students passed. The average mark for this group of students was 43%. No students from this group earned more than a Credit.

All of this is telling a consistent story: attendance at tutorials has a reasonably strong association with academic performance in the unit. The question which remains however is how do I get students to act on this association.

2 comments:

James Neill said...

Well yes, but association is not necessarily causation. The relations could be caused by other factors. Or causation may be in the other direction. Or bidirectional etc. A telling experience for me was a student who topped a third year research methods and stats unit and who didn't attend any lectures - but he watched the recordings multiple times at his own pace. I suspect there's some psychological factors at work that could explain more variance in marks than "attendance".

Andrew at UC said...

I cannot find any theoretical reason for why assessment marks would cause attendance at tutorials. What is more likely that both attendance and grades are caused by an unmeasured third variable called, for want of a better term, "engagement".