Attendance

In MS 150 Statistics fall 2010 (n = 79) attendance was moderately correlated to the overall course grade (r = 0.58, p < 0.0001 ) but not to performance on the final examination ( r = -0.04). In this report the word attendance refers to the number of days of attendance.
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46 of the 445 course points were daily attendance points, thus course average performance was partially directly dependent on attendance. Weekly quizzes or tests also couple attendance and the course performance. On the 53 point final, however, there was no linkage between attendance and performance.

This pattern of a lack of correlation between attendance and final examination performance was also seen in SC 130 Physical Science.

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In SC 130  fall 2010 (n = 32) attendance was moderately correlated to the overall course grade (r = 0.49, p = 0.0044) but not to performance on the final examination ( r = 0.17).

The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany final examination is of a different nature and is based on field identification of plants, their local names, and uses. The examination is not intended in any way to be comprehensive. No study was done of the relationship between attendance and final examination performance.

Among the three courses I teach, the strongest correlation purely in terms of correlation was seen in SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany (n = 25, r = 0.62).  MS 150 Statistics was second (n = 79, r = 0.58), and SC 130 Physical Science lecture section was third (n = 32, r = 0.49).

Students in MS 150 averaged 39.62 days of attendance of 46 possible attendance days. That represents an 86% attendance rate and, on average,  6.38 days of absences

Students in SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany averaged 28.12 days of attendance of 33 possible attendance days. That represents an 85% attendance rate and, on average,  5.86 days of absences This average exceeds the number of allowed absences. The attendance numbers for all courses, however, were impacted by the mumps epidemic that swept the island throughout the term. Mumps led to an automatic nine days bed rest, and students often required more time to fully recover.

Students in SC 130 averaged 41.14 days of attendance of 47 possible attendance days. That represents an 88% attendance rate and, on average,  5.86 days of absences.

The average attendance rates for the three courses are statistically indistinguishable at around 86 ± 2% of possible attendance days.

The following table reports basic statistics for attendance in MS 150 Statistics, SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany, and SC 130 Physical Science. Except for the row marked "mean absences" the data refers to attendance and not absences. For example, among the 79 students in MS 150, the lowest attendance was for a student who attended only 20.4 days. Fractional days are the result of arriving late. In the same course, at least one student attained perfect attendance of 46 days. On average, students attended 39.62 days of class.



MS 150 SC/SS 115 SC 130
n 79 25 32
min 20.4 23.1 33
max 46 31.6 46
total possible 46 33 47
mean 39.62 28.12 41.14
mean percent 0.86 0.85 0.88
mean abs 6.38 4.88 5.86
stdev 5.48 2.00 3.54

Discussion

The above data reinforces and strengthens the findings of an attendance report done last spring, attendance is important to course level performance in these courses. Although the earlier report looked at correlations with absence rates and this examined attendance rates, the two are fully dependent on each other.

That said, the complete lack of correlation of performance on the final examination to attendance in MS 150 Statistics and SC 130 Physical Science raises unanswered questions.

One might notice that student performance on the SC 130 final examination was significantly weaker than on the MS 150 Statistics final examination. This may be due in part to the availability of prior term examinations which are similar. In statistics there are final examinations on line that go back ten years. The current MS 150 Statistics final is a new examination with some changes in structure and new data, but the final still parallels those used in prior terms.


In SC 130 the final examination was completely new, redesigned from scratch. Studying old finals would not have been of any benefit as the structure and nature of the questions were altered. The new examination focuses higher on Bloom's taxonomy.

Students have done moderately well on the earlier "plug and chug" calculations based final examinations which required little in the way of insightful thinking. As the course focuses on the performance of laboratories and the writing up of laboratory reports, the final was not intended to be the summative course assessment tool that it is in MS 150. With the fall 2010 final the examination is still not exhaustively comprehensive, but the test is more complete and demands more of the student.

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