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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Required attendance doesn’t require us to care

opattendance-illo

Hey IU, my middle and high school called. They want their required attendance policies back. Seriously, you should give them back.  

We shouldn’t be required to attend classes in college. Not because we want to be lazy and not go, or because we don’t enjoy a lecture, but because we’re adults and can decide for ourselves. 

I don’t understand why there are policies demanding people who are clearly not interested in the class to attend. Forcing people to go to a lecture hasn’t made them pay attention. They are usually only distractions for everyone else. I often see people shopping, playing games, reading an article, and even talking — anything but paying attention to what the professor is saying.  

I’m sorry to break it to you, but required attendance does not require people to care. 

In my experience, being forced to go to a class only makes me not want to go that much more. As a student, when I’m not interested in a certain class but am required to take it for my degree, the class becomes unproductive in my eyes. Requiring me to attend only makes it worse.  

In these cases, I’m usually sulking and feeling anger instead of paying attention. Why anger? Because I could be doing better things with my time than being forced to attend a class I don’t want to be in.  

I understand the argument: Required attendance incentivizes students to go to class and at least try to pay attention and learn something. Maybe for some students, it works. They start out disliking a class, but because they are required to go, they have no choice but to try to enjoy it. I wish I was one of those people, but I’m not — and I’m sure many other students aren’t either.  

The truth is, no matter how much you force someone to do something, they won’t enjoy it if they don’t want to. It’s not in anyone’s power to decide that for the student.  

Not having a required attendance policy benefits professors too. Professors might have more engaging class discussions if the people who go to class genuinely want to be there. If it were me, I would rather give a lecture to 10 people who care about what I have to say, than to 200 people of which only 10 care.  

In sophomore year, my Psych 101 class was exactly like the former. My professor did not require students to attend lectures, there was no homework, no assignments and only four exams. About 20% of the class showed up to lectures, but it was the 20% that was interested. The people who did not want to be there did not have to be, and the ones who did want to were there. This class structure allowed the professor to give us, the 20% who showed up, much more personal attention. He dedicated time to the students who showed up. No one shopped or played games, we just shared an interest in psychology. That class, by far, was my favorite class in my time at IU.  

This also speaks to the issue of how big classes at IU are. I particularly loved the number of questions I could ask my professor in that psychology class. If the whole class had shown up, he wouldn’t have had the chance to help me with my doubts as much as he did, and I would’ve been left with holes in my knowledge.  

It's incredibly unfortunate IU has classes of 200 people. Professors and students don’t get a fair shot at learning or teaching. Our professors can’t foster engaging discussions because even when people show up for class because of required attendance, there are way too many of us to truly have a conversation. Lecturing was found to be the most effective way to teach in bigger classes. In a study conducted in over 800 faculty from 80 US institutions, it concluded 80% of class time was spent lecturing in life sciences and mathematics and 60% in the humanities. Although students may comprehend the topics, there is no conversation about them. We leave these lectures with questions that went unanswered because there wasn’t enough time. Sometimes even when you stay after class, the line of people waiting to ask the professor questions is too long to stay.  

Required attendance in combination with lecture halls packed with 200 students might lead some to enjoy a class they thought they would dislike, but it leads others, like me, to dread that hour and fifteen minutes.   

Maria Amanda Irias is a junior studying journalism and psychology.  

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