The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Students and professors notice low class attendance following fall break

4 min read

Some professors are having record low numbers of attendance in their classes this semester due to high student burnout. | Megan Mercuro / The Blue & Gray Press

by SAMUEL PUGLIESE

Staff Writer

Samantha Stachowiak, a senior business administration major, has had a difficult time finding the motivation to go to class after coming back from fall break.

“After a really exhausting first half of my semester, coming back from fall break has not been easy,” she said. “I have been having an extremely difficult time staying motivated to go to class, especially being so close to graduating.”

Stachowiak is among other students who are struggling to find the motivation to go to class.

Students and professors have noticed a decrease in attendance and participation in their classes. Some professors have been hosting classes virtually on certain days in attempts to increase attendance. 

Grant Cragg, a senior communication and digital studies major, noticed his professors commenting on the lack of students in class. One of these was his logic class taught by lecturer Michael Reno of the Classics, Philosophy and Religion Department.

“In my one class, professor Reno has commented on the attendance,” he said. “We normally have a full class. However, after fall break, half the class does not show up. There are a lot of empty desks.”

In Reno’s logic class, there are 49 students. According to Cragg, an average of about 24 students show up to class. 

Students such as Jamiyah Bryant, a senior applied economics major, have also noticed a downward trend in class attendance.

“I have managerial economics; it is a higher-level course,” said Bryant. “However, I am pretty sure that almost half the people who are in the class do not show up, whether they dropped the class or just stopped doing assignments. I noticed this after our first midterm and then it became really obvious after fall break.”

Aria Janello, a senior sociology major, reported similar findings.

“I think at this point in the semester, students’ priorities really show,” she said. “I have two major elective classes on the same day … and there is a lot of overlap in who is in both classes. For my 11 a.m., my professor grades participation as a large portion of our grade. The class is almost full every meeting, but my 3:30 p.m. has no attendance or participation requirements, and only four to five students show up each meeting.”

Due to the recent requirement that professors take attendance in class for COVID-19 contact tracing, professors can see the number of people who are missing classes. 

Smita Jain Oxford, a senior lecturer in the College of Business, pointed out how important attendance is. 

“My classes typically do not have low attendance,” she said. “In my classes, attendance and participation are a large factor of every student’s overall grades.”

The UMW attendance guidelines state that each student is responsible and accountable for the information they miss. It also states that the student is responsible for notifying the professors ahead of class time if they are to be absent for an extended period of time. 

Kashef Majid, an associate professor in the College of Business, said that he wants students to give notice when they will be missing class.

“I have noticed a decrease in attendance in my classes,” said Majid. “However, my classes vary in size ranging from larger to smaller sized classes. Even though attendance is down, most of my students do an excellent job giving me notice in advance when they will not be attending class.”

UMW students feel that having an online option once a week is more manageable.

“I have a management class that has one day a week where we are online,” said Cragg. “I honestly prefer it because there is no need to go on campus every day. Having one day where we can learn material and then read the rest on our own limits the need to be on campus.”

Caroline Broderick, a junior accounting major, also likes having a Zoom class option.

“Starting Tuesday, my federal taxation of individuals class will be online but only on Tuesdays, said Broderick. “I think it’s a great option. My course load is already hard enough to manage; I think this can take some pressure off of me. I also believe it will help students be more motivated to show up to class.”

Cragg believes that having class online once a week could benefit himself and other students because of how difficult re-adjusting to in-person classes was. 

“I feel like I have seen more people in my hybrid classes than my actual in-person classes,” he said. “I think there’s a reason why people are going to class on Zoom instead of in person. We still have to get used to going back in person. A lot of people are probably feeling burnt out and drained of in-person learning.”

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