Standing room only: faculty intervention increases voluntary lecture attendance and performance for disadvantaged year 1 bioscience students

Kerry Ann Dickson, Bruce Warren Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Literature shows that attendance is an important bidirectional link in engaging students in learning. However, metacognitive awareness eludes many first-year students – particularly the disadvantaged, including those with low admission scores, English as a second language or coming from low socio-economic status (SES), migrant, or first-in-family backgrounds. Our intention was to encourage punctual lecture attendance, but without making it compulsory, in a year 1 Anatomy unit. We compared lecture attendance without and with updatings which informed students of their own accumulated attendance. Thus, the lecturer encouraged student time management. Compared with the other cohort, for students who were informed of their accumulated attendance, lecture attendance (56.5 vs. 77.5%) and performance (54.2 vs. 58.9%) were higher, the failure rate was about one-third lower (31.7 vs. 22.1%), the percentage of students scoring over 80% was 2.5 times higher, and the performance advantage of students’ admission score was removed. Furthermore, updating on attendance resulted in low SES students attending to the level of high SES students. These findings suggest that simply updating students on their accumulated lecture attendance has a surprisingly strong effect on their performance, particularly if they are underachievers or from low SES backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalHigher Education Pedagogies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Attendance
  • Diversity
  • Performance
  • Time management

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