ATTENDANCE IN SOUTH AFRICAN PSYCHOLOGY LECTURES: WHY DO STUDENTS SKIP LECTURES?
There is evidence from different contact-instruction universities in South Africa that not all students are regularly attending lectures. Substantial international evidence suggests that low attendance at lectures adversely affects students’ academic performance. This paper explores why students miss lectures with particular reference to the University of the Witwatersrand being a city-based, largely non-residential institution, within a developing country struggling to deal with the residual inequalities of Apartheid. Having large numbers of students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds means that there may be financial restrictions that may serve as unique factors affecting non-attendance at lectures. Previous international studies on lecture attendance suggest a wide range of possible reasons for non-attendance including part-time or full-time work commitments, transport problems, financial problems, accommodation problems, drinking or other substance abuse problems, family commitments, lecture characteristics, time of day of the lecture, availability of online notes, socialisation opportunities, and competing academic commitments. In addition, factors such as student motivation and studying strategies are also likely to influence lecture attendance. Further, lecture attendance may be influenced by the lecturer’s lecturing style, the ability to get lecture notes through other means, or due to mismatches between the lecturer’s and student’s perceptions of the purpose of lectures. In this paper data will be presented from a larger empirical research project focusing on reasons for non-attendance at lectures. Questionnaire data were collected from 168 psychology students (61 first year, 64 second year, and 43 third year students) and telephonic interview data were collected from 75 psychology students (25 students at each level). Detailed results from the study will be discussed and recommendations for improvement will be considered.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev