In the previous blog I looked at some of the reasons why Attendance Monitoring has risen up the agenda in Higher Education. Now let’s look at some of the factors in considering what to do.
Simply the fact that attendance is being monitored can help – students knowing that if they are absent, they will be missed. And some studies have shown that staff resistance to monitoring is greater than that of students, who often see lenience towards their non attending peers as “unfair”.
The reporting is at least as important as the monitoring. Once a student has been identified as not attending (you need to decide what thresholds will trigger this), there need to be “pastoral care” systems which kick in to address the problem and prevent “silent withdrawal”. This would typically start with automatically generated texts or emails to the student (“We missed you.”), then escalating to personal contact and problem resolution where necessary. Manchester Metropolitan University has compiled this (probably not exhaustive) list of potential problems:
– Poor English
– Study skills
– Wrong course
– Lacking commitment
– Substance abuse
– Medical/psychiatric problems
– Lack of ability
– Personal problems
– Finance – overworking
– Visa/benefit fraud
Paper systems are in use at some HEIs – the obvious issues with this approach is that they are labour intensive, data is often incomplete or inaccurate, and may take several days or more to recognise a student problem, which may be too late to affect retention.
In the next blog I’ll discuss the practical options to monitoring attendance.
(Fenbrook Consulting advises Higher Education Institutions on the business and technical aspects of campus card systems.)