Differences in Class Participation and Attendance Between Freshman and Upper-classmen
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
LAGEMAN, N A (2009). Differences in Class Participation and Attendance Between Freshman and Upper-classmen. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 12. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved October 22, 2017 .

Differences in Class Participation and Attendance Between Freshman and Upper-classmen
NICHOLAS LAGEMAN
-none- University of Central Missouri

Sponsored by: PATRICIA MARSH (pmarsh@ucmo.edu)
ABSTRACT

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This study will examine the relationship between and attendance of upper-class students’ freshman students. The hypothesis being tested is that freshman students will attend class more often than sophomore through senior students, but freshmen will participate less often than sophomore through senior students. The survey method will be used to test the hypothesis.

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Differences in Class Participation and Attendance

Between Freshmen, and Sophomore Through Senior Students

Stepping into a college classroom for the first time can be a very scary experience for incoming freshmen. When freshmen get into the classroom they must decide how active they wish to be. Some students are afraid of saying the wrong answer, or worry about how the other students will view them. This leads to the first hypothesis that will be tested. Freshmen, with the factors that have already been discussed, will have reasons for not wanting to, or being nervous about, participating in class. Although these students may be worried about participating, freshmen students will be in the classroom more often than upper-classmen.

Upper-class students have more experience in the college setting than incoming freshmen. Thus, upper-class students, with their experience, are more likely to participate in class discussion and activities. However, as noticed by this researcher, upper-class students are more likely to miss class. There could be several reasons for this, such as the work load, which they may deem more important. The second hypothesis that is being tested is that upper-class students will be more likely to participate in class activities and projects, but they will be in class less that incoming freshmen.

In “The Dependency Paradox in Close Relationships”, a study by Brooke C. Feeney (2007), the survey method was used alongside observation. Feeney attempted to find correlations within close relationships. Feeney would split the study between the self-report and behavior surveys, and the observations she took of the couples. For the study 115 couples were brought in for a larger study on social support. Feeney is looking for three different hypotheses in the study. The first is one partner’s report of his or her acceptance of dependence (Feeney 270). The second hypothesis is, to look for a link between acceptance of dependence and independent functioning in couples (Feeney 270). The third hypothesis is Feeney looked for was, one partners acceptance of dependence, should predict the others independent functioning during a subsequent laboratory task (Feeney 270). Feeney used the survey portion of the study, to show the recipients general engagement in independent exploration (Feeney 271). The results of Feeney’s study went well, the hypotheses were correct and the null was rejected Feeney (272-274).  Feeney went on to do a follow-up study, much like her first.

Harb and El-Shaarawi(2001) observed the students in the classroom who were participants in their study. They looked at classroom participation, because they were comparing it to the grades of students who participated in class and those that participated but did not speak. By do not speak they meant that the students participated by working in groups or doing the work in class, but did not for example give their ideas or participate in class discussion. There were several parts of the study along with the observational part. They passed out surveys about the student’s performance within the college, general questions about the college, and attending college in the UAE. The second part of the survey was compared to the grade’s and performance, in school, of the students who have many people living at home and in a loud environment, compared to the students who have smaller family’s and fewer people living at home. “This study is important for two reasons: (a) We focused on factors that affect student performance in the UAEU, and (b) it should help policy makers in the UAE in general and in the UAEU in particular to improve students’ performance with in the college.” (Harb & El-shaarawi 283) The way that the researchers used observation in their study is closely related to the way it will be used in this study.  The current study will incorporate aspects of the 2001 study by Harb and El-Shaarawi.

Researchers at the Tennessee State University used the survey method closely like in this study. In this study the researchers will be using the survey method to determine if a correlation exists between students’ work in the classroom compared to their grades at the semester (Arthur, Shepherd, Sumo 2006) This study is a co relational study that uses surveys to find the following information; “(a) students’ attitudes about academics, (b) their academic behavior, and (c) the degree of relationship among students’ attitudes about students’ about students academic behavior, and academic success”. (Arthur, Shepherd, and Sumo 74) The result of the study was statistically significant and presented small or moderate relationships among the variables. (Arthur, Shepherd, and Sumo 76) In the current study the survey method will be used to find information about why students come to class and do not, and also to find out reasons for class participation or why there is an absence of class participation.

There is a study that was done by Steven Gump (2004) from the University of Illinois, which had results similar to the ones that expected for the current study. Gump surveyed students about why they come to class. He found that students are more likely to come to class if the instructor or material is interesting, as opposed to attendance being required for a grade. (Gump 2004) The survey that Gump used for his research was irrelevant to the research except for the second question.  The question asked students to identify situations that would increase their likelihood to attend class. Gump expected option “A” to be the most common response, because it was requiring attendance for a grade in the class. Instead the most common response in the survey was “C” which were students are more likely to be in class if the instructor is interesting. (Gump 2004) it is believe that the results of the current study, will show that students are more likely to attend class if it is interesting as well.

There are two studies by Randy Moore that deal with attendance in a way that is closely related to the current study. Moore’s study was, “Attendance: Are Penalties More Effective then rewards.” “This study examined how developmental education students’ grades and attendance rates were affected by (a) penalties for excessive absenteeism, and (b) an emphasis on academic benefits of class attendance in large introductory biology course.” (Moore 26) Moore’s study took place over four different course sections. The differences in classes were there would either be an emphasis on attendance, or a penalty for absences. This would look at how attendance effects grade distribution. The first class there was no penalties on attendance or emphasis. Second, no emphasis but a penalty for absence was introduced. Third, there was an emphasis on attendance but no penalty for absences. The fourth class, there was both an emphasis on attendance, and a penalty for absences. Moore found that the class attendance and the average grade for the class were only a few percent away from each other. His results show that classrooms with an emphasis on attendance will have higher attendance and average grades than those with a penalty for absences. Moore’s study is similar to this study, because he looked in depth at what made students come to their classes.

The second of Moore’s two studies was, “Helping Students Succeed in Introductory Biology Classes: Does Improving Students Attendance Also Improving Their Grades.” In this study, Moore looked to compare attendance to grades. He asked his classes on the first day of class to give him their predicted attendance level, and predicted grade at the end of the semester. “80% of the students believed they would attend class 81-100% of the time. 55% of the students expected to make an A and 40% a B in the class.” (Moore 19) The results of the study were statistically significant. Students who attended classes regularly did do better than the most that did not attend regularly. The expectations of the students at the beginning of the semester did not reflect the actual results that showed through grades and attendance however.

These studies are all similar to the current study because they are dealing with attendance in ways close to this study, or participation in class. Several of these studies are using the survey method of observation as well, much like this study. This study will be attempting to find a relationship between attendance and participation in different grade levels. Freshmen students, will attend class more often, but not be as likely to participate in class. Upper-class students will be in class less, but when they are there they will participate more than the freshmen students.

Method

Participants:

Participants for this study will be college students, who are 18 years of age or

older, enrolled in general education courses at a Midwest university.

Materials:

            The Materials used for this study will be a survey for the students to take.

Procedure:

            The procedure for this study will be using the survey method. The surveys will be given out to the people enrolled in general education courses, and living in a residence hall. The survey will consist of questions regarding missing class, and participation in class. After approximately 25 males and 25 females complete the survey then correlations will be run to examine associations among variables.

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Results

The surveys for this study were passed out, with informed consent attached. When looking at the hypothesis of freshmen attending class more often, but participating less, and upperclassmen participating more but attending less, the hypothesis is supported by the data. This study surveyed fifty total students, twenty-one freshmen and twenty-nine sophomores through senior students. The results of the survey show that freshmen students miss class on average 1.71 times a week. Upper-class students miss class 2.29 times a week. Freshmen students participate in class 2.43 times a week, and upper-class students participate 3.86 times a week. The survey did ask some other questions however. When asked if they thought upper class students skip class more, 60% said yes. When asked the same question about freshmen only 44% said yes. The questions about interest were slightly disappointing. When students were asked if they would attend and participate in class if it was more interesting only 32% would participate, and 46% would attend more. When students were asked to circle the reasons they miss class, the top three were; family, sickness, and the weather. When asked why they don’t participate the top three reasons were; texting, didn’t read the material, and do not want to.

Discussion

Overall this study went very well. There are a few things however that would of greatly improved this study. One thing that could have been done, is adding an observational part to the study. The way this would be done, is have a researcher within a general education classroom. This researcher would need to know who the students were, relative to grade level. Then the researcher could record the times the student speaks out or participates in class discussion. Then the researcher could check attendance as well. Having an observational part of this study would present data to compare to the surveys to check for consistencies. This would also see how susceptible the survey is to volunteer bias. Other ways the study could be improved is, collecting more data and getting more people to fill out the survey.


 

References

Arthur C., Shepherd L., & Sumo M. (2006). The role of students’ diligence in predicting academic performance. [Electronic version]. Research in the Schools, 13, 72-80

Freeney, B. C. (2007) The dependency paradox in close relationships: Accepting dependence promotes independence. [Electronic version] Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 268-285

Gump, S. E. (2004) Keep students coming by keeping them interested: Motivators for class attendance, [Electronic version] College Student Journal, 38, 157-160

Harb, El-Shaarawi (2007). Factors affecting business students’ performance: The case of students in the United Arab Emirates. [Electronic version] Journal of Education for Business

Moore, R. (2003). Helping students succeed in introductory level biology courses: Does improving student’s attendance also improve their grades? [Electronic version]. Bioscene. 29, 17-25

Moore, R. (2005) Attendence: Are penalties more effective then rewards? [Electronic version] Journal of Developmental Education, 29, 26-32

Submitted 05/08/2009
Accepted 05/28/2009

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