• Written by Natalie Skead, Professor, Dean of Law School, University of Western Australia
Shutterstock

In 2017, a business lecturer posted a photo on LinkedIn showing a completely empty university classroom, 15 minutes after the class had been scheduled to start.

This is not an isolated incident. Anecdotally, lecture and tutorial attendance has been declining steadily in Australian universities and faculties for many years.

Declining attendance may affect students’ academic performance and their sense of connectedness. University doesn’t only teach content but develops attributes such as oral communication and interpersonal skills including teamwork.

Students are less likely to develop these skills if they don’t physically attend class.

We conducted a large-scale study in our law school to uncover whether lecture recordings are responsible for declining student attendance and what motivates students to attend or miss class.

By manually counting how many students were in lectures across sixteen different subjects, we found attendance rates averaged just 38% of total enrolments across the semester.

A Deakin University lecturer’s empty classroom 15 minutes after the class was due to start. Adrian Raftery/LinkedIn

There was a natural ebb and flow of lecture attendance throughout the semester. There was peak attendance at the beginning (57%), a significant drop in the middle as assessments became due (26%) and a rebound at the end of semester as exam season hit (35%).

We also asked students to self-report their lecture attendance. The most common answer given, by far, was “almost all of the time” and 59% of students said they attended lectures the majority of the time.

Clearly there is a dissonance between this self-perception and reality.

Are recordings to blame?

Lecture recording is now common in Australian universities. Anecdotally, it’s often held responsible for declining attendance rates. But there is little research on the relationship between student attendance and lecture recording.

While lectures are usually recorded and available to students in streamed or downloadable format once the class ends, tutorials and other smaller classes are not usually recorded.


Read more: Are lectures a good way to learn?


Our study found students aren’t ditching tutorials, seminars and workshops as much as they are lectures. Tutorials averaged a whopping 84% attendance rate. This could partly be explained by the fact teachers assess students on their participation in tutorials.

We also surveyed 900 students to find out their reasons for attending and not attending lectures, tutorials and workshops.

Availability of lecture recordings was the most common reason students gave for not attending lectures (18% of students said this). But work commitments were a close second (16%). Then it was timetable conflicts (12%), the time and day of lectures (11%) and assessments being due (8%).

Students lead complex lives

Universities provide students with lecture recordings for several reasons. These include giving students an alternative study tool and supporting students with disabilities or from non-English speaking backgrounds (who can slow down or pause recordings if necessary).

Our survey and focus groups showed students lead complex lives often balancing work, family and other commitments alongside their studies.

One student said:

[…] if some [lectures] are so early as 8am, that would involve waking up at 6am, which is difficult as I work in hospitality at night and if I’ve worked the night before I wouldn’t be getting to bed until after midnight.

I likely would be fatigued during that lecture and have difficulty concentrating and taking in the content, compared to if I watched the recording and took notes later that afternoon.

Other students said they relied on lecture recordings to enhance their learning. One said:

I find I get more out of the lecture by listening to it in my own time and at my own pace […] I prefer to be able to pause the recorded video to research more in-depth into cases and theories to add to my notes.

Some students with additional learning needs said the option not to attend class, and to access lecture recordings, was an important equity measure.

What should we do?

Lecture recordings bring important benefits for students. They can also be necessary for students with personal, work or health difficulties.

But recordings are clearly contributing to declining lecture attendance, too. We propose three possible paths forward for universities and teachers, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

First, we can simply persist with the traditional model of recorded lectures. Teachers will need to accept attendance will likely be low and student learning, experience and wellness should instead be the focus of tutorials and other small group classes.

Second, we can introduce more active learning into lectures to encourage greater attendance. This could include small group exercises, in-class polling or role-plays.


Read more: Let's not abandon the humble lecture quite yet


But this would mean lecture recordings would be less useful for students. It would undercut the flexibility recordings offer and may cause equity concerns.

Third, we can change our teaching methodology to a “flipped” approach. This means the main way students would get information would be through online resources and activities. Face-to-face classes would then be dedicated to engaging students in deeper learning through collaborative activities.

Though this frees up lecture time for more effective learning, it would require appropriate support and training for teachers. Teachers, many of whom already work under significant time constraints, would need to invest more time and energy into their lessons.

Unfortunately there is not a one-size fits all answer to the conundrum of declining lecture attendance. But learning and teaching policies, such as mandatory lecture recording, should be informed by an evidence-based understanding of the likely consequences for staff and students.

Fiona McGaughey has previously received funding from Graduate Women (WA).

Kate Offer, Liam Elphick, Murray Wesson, and Natalie Skead do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Authors: Natalie Skead, Professor, Dean of Law School, University of Western Australia

Read more https://theconversation.com/online-lectures-mean-fewer-students-are-turning-up-does-it-matter-131988

Carpet Cleaning Tips

After work, the best feeling is to get home, your haven, where you can find peace and calm. But when you take a glance at your carpet, your heart shatters into pieces. The grime, dirt, and is it all...

News Company - avatar News Company

All Australians will be able to access telehealth under new $1.1 billion coronavirus program

Scott Morrison will unveil on Sunday a $1.1 billion set of measures to make Medicare telehealth services generally available during the coronavirus pandemic and to support mental health, domestic viol...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

How much more expensive is a two storey home?

The idea of adding a second storey to your home is exhilarating. Imagine, more living space, more bedrooms, more bathrooms, and a significant bump on the resale value of your home! For families, ha...

Digital 360 - avatar Digital 360

Parents, These FAQs Will Help You Prep for Childcare in Australia

If you’re a new immigrant in Australia, perhaps you have plenty of questions about childhood education. What school should you pick, or what’s the best age for them to attend school? To help you...

Darren Cunningham - avatar Darren Cunningham

Hotel quarantine for returning Aussies and 'hibernation' assistance for businesses

All Australians arriving from overseas will be quarantined in hotels or other facilities under strict supervision for a fortnight, under the latest crackdown in the battle against the coronavirus.Anno...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

how sharing your data could help in New Zealand's level 4 lockdown

New Zealand and much of the world is now under an unprecedented lockdown. Public health experts say this is the best way to suppress the spread of the virus. But how long will such a lockdown be socia...

Jon MacKay, Lecturer, Business Analytics, University of Auckland - avatar Jon MacKay, Lecturer, Business Analytics, University of Auckland

What is orthohantavirus? The virus many are Googling (but you really don't need to worry about)

ShutterstockAccording to Google Trends, the top globally trending topic this week is “orthohantavirus”, as spurious sites claim it’s the next pandemic on the horizon.Take it from me:...

Allen Cheng, Professor in Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, Monash University - avatar Allen Cheng, Professor in Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, Monash University

MyGov's ill-timed meltdown could have been avoided with 'elastic computing'

DAN PELED/AAPThese past few weeks have shown the brittleness of Australia’s online systems. It’s not surprising the federal government’s traditionally slow-moving IT systems are buck...

Erica Mealy, Lecturer in Computer Science, University of the Sunshine Coast - avatar Erica Mealy, Lecturer in Computer Science, University of the Sunshine Coast

Why New Zealand’s coronavirus cases will keep rising for weeks, even in level 4 lockdown

ShutterstockThe number of New Zealanders testing positive for COVID-19 will continue to rise despite the strict conditions of the four-week lockdown that began this week. As of today, there are 368 ca...

Arindam Basu, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Environmental Health, University of Canterbury - avatar Arindam Basu, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Environmental Health, University of Canterbury

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

CBD



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion