Exploring the relationship between attendance and attainment

Vy Rajapillai, Simon Wilkinson, Sarah Varney-Burch

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


    This article reports on our study which investigates the relationship between students’ attendance in structured learning sessions and their impact on students’ academic performance. Studies in this area (Bati et al., 2013; Mearman et al., 2014) have already started to question the traditional view of a direct correlation between student attendance and attainment. They focus instead on factors such as the nature of the delivery of lectures, difficulty of subject matter, as well as adapting to a higher education environment. However, these studies still argue, explicitly and implicitly, that attendance in structured learning sessions has a direct impact on students’ academic performance, leading to attendance policies, which may even be coercive (Self, 2012). Data from our selected modules suggests that attendance and performance correlate weakly, and that the patterns of correlation between modules are quite different depending on size of cohort, assessment type and content. We argue that the relationship between attendance and per-formance is far more complex than previously believed, and that the correla-tions we see in the data result from the interacting relationships of multiple causes, to the extent that increased attendance does not necessarily lead to increased performance. We propose that we address the complex nature of attainment through engagement, rather than simply assume that attendance will lead to attainment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResearch Matters
    Subtitle of host publicationThe Pedagogic Research Conference and Articles 2019
    EditorsRachel Masika
    Place of PublicationBrighton
    PublisherUniversity of Brighton
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)9781910172223
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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