Tag Archives: undergraduate psychology

Effects of Recording Attendance on Grades in Introductory Psychology

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Submitted by Anna Behler

Article Reference

Shimoff, E., & Catania, A. C. (2001). Effects of recording attendance on grades in Introductory Psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 28(3), 192-195.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

Purpose: The goals of this experiment were two-fold. Firstly, the researchers wanted to test the popular assumption that attendance contributes to better student performance. Secondly, they wanted to explore effective methods for increasing attendance in college courses.

Method: The researchers recorded attendance for 57 undergraduates in an introductory psychology course. The remaining 57 students did not have their attendance officially recorded (although the researchers kept track). Students were aware that attendance would NOT factor in to their final course grade. In addition to tracking attendance, the researchers also analyzed scores on quizzes that were given throughout the semester.


1) The mean attendance rate for the semester was significantly higher for students whose attendance was recorded (85.61%) than students whose attendance was not recorded (78.50%).

2) The group whose attendance was recorded performed significantly better on quizzes than the group whose attendance was not recorded. This held true for quiz items that were covered in the textbook as well as for items that were covered only in lecture.

3) Both groups reported that taking attendance did not impact their decision to come to class. The groups did not significantly differ in their responses when asked if recording attendance had (or would have) any impact on their behavior.

Discussion Questions

  1. Based on your own personal experience, what were some factors that led you to decide not to attend a class during your college career?
  2. What methods have you or any of your previous instructors employed that were effective in increasing student attendance?
  3. Do you feel that requiring attendance is helpful or harmful for students? For the class as a whole? For the instructor?