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Should I do like the Romans do or should I make waves? How Migrant Teachers and Students face Issue of Attendance Today

By       Message Kevin Anthony Stoda       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Cause and Effect:  Attendance as an Issue in Schools Globally

 

By Kevin Stoda, an American in the Middle East currently

 

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In many countries of the world, attendance at university and college classes are not as serious a matter as it is in the United State.  Many foreign students come to the USA and learn this the hard way--having to retake courses that they should have passed the first time. I have experienced the effects that these educational-social-practice differences have had on me as both a lecturer and as a student.

 

For example, I was a student in Germany at university from 1986 through 1990 while at the same time I occasionally taught classes in English to some of my peers as paid employee at the same institution.  In Japan and Mexico, too, I was active at different times as both a student and as an instructor. Finally,  I should add, in my homeland, the USA at various times over the decades, I have also been active as a student and as a university instructor. In the next part of this essay, I will discuss some of  the causes and effects that the different attitudes about regular attendance can have on students and instructors. 

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There are several major causes as to why, in general, Americans--including professors and most students--take university classroom attendance so seriously as compared to those in some other lands.  First of all, in most American universities and colleges enrollment in a semester course is already fairly fixed by the end of the first week of classes.  For this reason, students who enroll late or who  decide to abandon a course after the first week face very high fees or financial penalties. In contrast to the USA, in many countries in the world, such as in Mexico or Germany, most public universities are free or relatively free for the students entering them. 

 

 

A second reason why Americans take classroom attendance seriously is because it is often anticipated (or assumed) by students and many teaching staff that the coursework or projects are as important for success in the course as are any exams.  This is because in the typical American elementary and secondary school system students rarely have experienced more than a handful of high-stakes exams in their lives as compared to those in other lands who almost exclusively receive their semester marks based upon the marks that they get on one or two exams taken each year.

 

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Third, American public schools receive both state and federal funding based upon student attendance.  This leads administrators to give great attention to attendance as part of the process that eventually brings students to college and universities in a daily interaction.

 

The effect of this more hyper focus on attendance for American students at the university level include the fact that issues of time-on-task practicing and time-spent-wrestling with any course material in a classroom setting are often taken more seriously at tertiary institutes in the USA than in other corners of the world.  German students studying at American universities, in contrast, often feel that the American system treats them like they are still high school students--leaving them feeling demeaned.  At the same time, I--as an American student studying in Germany (following my having already received a B.A. in a U.S. college)--was equally frustrated by the lack of attendance by my peers at German universities.  This lack of attendance led me to demean attendance myself and I subsequently dropped out of several courses because attendance was obviously not taken as serious (by either my peers or by many instructors). 

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)
 

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