August 16, 2010

The "Should I Skip Class Today?" Calculator.

When you not only don't want to go to class, you don't even want to make a decision for yourself.

(Via Inside Higher Ed.)

As a teacher, I need to reverse-engineer my classroom policies. I can see students using this calculator would be encouraged to skip!

Hmm... I just tried to do that. It seems the only way I can change something to get a different result is to give pop quizzes. That would be bizarre in law school. But the equivalent — which is  not accounted for in the calculator — is to call on students randomly and have class participation be part of the grade.


Mark O said...

What do you think about the students who never miss, sit on the first row and raise their hands?

TosaGuy said...

It's missing this question:

Am I paying for the class or are my parents?

Scott M said...

When I went back to finish up school as a thirty-something, I noticed a huge change in the way teachers ran their classes. Most classes I had took attendance and gave a scale for points lost/letter grades lost once you got to a certain limit. They also had comprehensive finals that covered all of the material in the class.

Now, rare is the class that insists on mandatory attendance and most teachers break the class into smaller units, each with its own exam. It was easy to understand how my fellow students, most ten years younger or more, rarely felt the need to go to class on a regular basis.

Fred4Pres said...

If you need a calculator to skip class you are no Ferris Bueller.

Although is Ferris just a figment of Cameron's mind? I am still grappling with that theory.

Scott M said...

Naw. We aired that out pretty good when it came up, Fred. There are multiple reasons why it's bogus. Fun, but illin'.

MadisonMan said...

Along the lines of TosaGuy, it needs a Are you a full-time worker question?

When people are taking night classes at a tech college, the possibility that your class is priority number 2, 3, or 10 on their list is very high. That should factor into any decision.

Beth said...

I take attendance because I'm required to do so. Federal student aid tracks when students drop out, if they do, and if a student missed the final exam, I have to enter his or her last date attended when I submit final grades for the semester.

I don't penalize for missed classes, but I give students a clear idea of how missing X number of classes generally correlates to how they progress, or fail to progress, in the class. Students who miss about two weeks of class almost always end up with an F or a D, based on performance. I don't need to include attendance in my grading when it essentially takes care of itself.

edutcher said...

This is definitely for the soph who needs to make that quick decision:

Class or another hour with Bonita?

bagoh20 said...

" get a different result is to give pop quizzes. That would be bizarre in law school."

Maybe, but real life is all about the pop quiz. This is an important thing to instill. Maybe if lawyers were taught with more pop quizzes, trials wouldn't take so damned long.

jamboree said...

I don't think so. They are paying *you*. You are beholden to *them*. It's not high school or elementary school. Whether or not they show up or actually need your lectures to learn the subject well enough to perform on the tests is up to them. Other than that it's just your own ego, and I would argue you actually have no real right to require anything else. You're not an elementary school teacher.

Kirby Olson said...

RateMyProfessor already has this as the ultimate criterion:

How easy was this prof?

There are some students who put work ethic high up on their list, and others who appreciate having had to work after the fact, but it's unfortunately a rare phenomenon. Those students will pay for this in the long run when employers realize they don't know anything, but are just looking for lots of money, nothing much to do, days off, and so on.

They'll be the first to go when layoffs come.

TosaGuy said...


A good point. I did consider work schedules when I was teaching some evening college courses....but only if it was an occasional thing like a business trip. If it was a regular thing, then I recommended that the student either drop the class or change their schedule.

Treacle said...

Why would pop quizzes be bizarre? I think it's more bizarre to judge a student's knowledge of a law school subject based on a single test administered at the end of 3 months at the same time that the student is being tested on every other subject.

Seven Machos said...

I've told this story here before but in Con Law everyone just stopped going second semester. I went one day when the classroom was virtually empty and the topic was state action.

Virtually the entire exam involved state action.

That's how you do it.

Freeman Hunt said...

This calculator is wrong.

This one is right. You go down the list and if you have to answer "no," you stop there and go to class. If you make it to the end, you skip.

(1) Do you want to skip this class?
(2) Do you have an "A"?
(3) Are you going to ace your next major paper or test regardless of whether or not you skip this class*?

*Is there an attendance policy? If so, why did you take this class? Can you transfer to a non-whiny professor who cares about whether or not you've learned the material rather than making neat rows of meaningless check marks in his attendance book?

Attendance policies = institutionalism not education.