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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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    More to participation than showing up

    Mike Hathaway’s article “”Attendance mandatory, learning optional”” (Mon. 4/14) calls the expectation that a student will regularly attend class “”ridiculous.”” The most unfortunate assumption that Hathaway makes is that there is nothing going on in class except the conveying of information from the instructor to the students. His analysis ignores that classes often engage in productive discussion of the material, review of the homework, collaborative projects and other important activities. He also asserts that students should be simply rewarded for learning the material so that they can produce it on tests and assignments. This is not the reality of the university environment, especially in the area of languages, where discussion and in-class participation are essential to learning. Hathaway argues that the attendance policies are intended to reward students for just showing up to class, regardless of whether they actively participate. Since Hathaway is a Spanish and Portuguese major, he is surely familiar with the Spanish and Portuguese department’s policies (available online). Using a 10 point scale, the department rewards students who ask questions, who bring their homework to class and use the target language as much as possible. Just showing up will earn a student much fewer points, but at least that student bothered to show up. What’s most disconcerting about Hathaway’s attitude to me as an instructor is that he seems to think that just getting the out of class assignments done is good enough. If one considers college as a preparation for employment, it’s obvious that showing up every day and making yourself valuable is a big part of the job. Most departments allow you about a full week of absences before you are penalized. I wonder if an employer would continue to pay an employee who chose not to show up for more than a week.

    Lucy Blaney

    Spanish graduate student

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